This weekend’s opening WorldSBK ran at full revs right to the end as Kawasaki’s Alex Lowes (KRT) won the third race from his new team-mate Jonathan Rea by a slender 0.037 seconds.
His win made it three different winners in three races ahd Lowes had a good feeling in the finale as track temperatures crept up to as much as 45°C at times during the race.
“I knew when it got a lot hotter it was going to play into our hands as Marcel, my crew chief, had forced me to work really hard on old tyres in practice,” said Lowes, who had set few truly fast lap times but many good laps before the points came up for grabs.
“When the grip dropped I knew I was going to be more comfortable than the other guys. In the second race there were so many people hitting everybody, Jonathan trying to control the pace and Baz hit me a few times.
“It was hard just to stay calm but each time by past the pitbox I said to myself, ‘Relax, stay calm, you have go the pace for the next ten laps - relax, relax.’ In the end, luckily, I had a bit more grip than the other guys and won race two.”
After all the toils and trouble in practice, it was finally a good news story of epic proportions in a race that could have had any number of winners until right near the end. In the very end it was Lowes and Rea, and Lowes on top after Rea’s ten-lap sprint race victory.
A great start here with Kawasaki. Obviously this track is a little bit strange so I need to just enjoy the moment, go to Qatar and refresh. We will see how we stack up but I am really satisfied with the first weekend.”
Lowes was able to fight back almost every time he was passed into turn four, the slow right hairpin, and hold a tighter inside line than anybody to take advantage into Siberia corner.
“Yes, one thing I will say with the bike is that I find it easier in a race situation compared to what I have had in the past,” he said.
“I found it easier to be in a position to pass, or block the pass or pass back. The Yamaha was always more difficult in the race but this was the opposite, which gives me good confidence going forward.”
Lowes was not fazed by racing Rea, who has been a five times champions with Kawasaki, in the final laps. He said, “No, not really. I just tried to do the best I could and luckily today it was enough in these slippy conditions.
“In the short race I got a bad start and I just wanted to get into the top six and the top two rows, so I was quite satisfied to get fourth. It put me in a good position to get a good start in the final race. That was really important.”
Lowes is unsure how he made such a good race weekend after being so far off in testing, and having lost so much potential track time to bad weather over the winter since his swap over from Yamaha to Kawasaki.
“I don’t know because at the test I did not have such a good feeling but maybe in a race weekend maybe a bit of adrenaline and you cannot take away the work the whole team has done, Jonathan as well, every year improving the bike and fighting to win every weekend. That means that it just does not happen ‘like that’,” he said.
““The team are working every weekend and working well so it is about me adapting myself to the bike because clearly the bike is working well.”