For Alex Lowes, Losail will be his last WorldSBK event with Yamaha before he heads off to join Jonathan Rea and the all-conquering KRT squad.
Finishing second in race one was almost the ideal way to defend his overall third place going into the final evening of races, and he is now seven points – not one point as they started Race One – ahead of his team-mate Michael van der Mark, with two more opportunities to eke out more of an advantage. Toprak Razgatlioglu – the rider who will replace Lowes in 2020 - is 17 points behind now.
“It is good because in the last few rounds I have been consistent finishing fifth, sixth, fourth, and a podiums in Magny Cours after the incident,” said Lowes. “Here I need to make a step; I want to get third and I need to make another step forward and challenge for the podium.
“So far it is going well. The bike was working really well in that race, turning well, and in some parts better than Johnny’s. The second part I struggled a little bit with the front and then when Chaz passed me I saw I had a big gap - and then everything all of a sudden felt a lot worse.
Obviously I could not afford to make a mistake. I think we can improve the bike for tomorrow and just focus on doing the best Superpole race I can. See how we get on in that and then doing the best I can in the last race. I think I can be proud of my year if I can do that.”
In the first race Lowes even looked like he was biding his time behind Rea, as he was anything between 0.1 and 0.3 behind, but then the gap started to appear. It was not possible for Lowes to pass early on, even thought their relative pace was almost identical.
“In the first laps I wished I could pass him but I was sat behind him, and understood where he was making little bit of a gap, so I thought ‘this is good, just stick behind him and he will pull me away from the other guys.’ After about seven laps I came back onto the back of him and I thought, ‘OK, maybe I am going to be strong here’, but then I started to run a little bit wide, make some mistakes, and I thought today is not the day to try and beat him. I have next year to try and do that.”
Now that Lowes had such a close look at the Kawasaki he was asked if moving to Kawasaki was the right decision, even though it became his best available option after Yamaha let him go. Obviously, joining a manufacturer that just won their own championship in Race One, in addition to already scooping the Riders’ and Teams’ titles, can only be considered good fortune.
“No alternative so I just got lucky with the ride. Good luck really. To be honest, everybody thinks. ‘Oh yeah, it is the best team, best bike’ but Johnny Rea is riding the best (of all the riders) at the minute. Even when could not win the races he was finishing second to Alvaro all the time. If it is mixed conditions, dodgy conditions, he wins the race, so I am looking forward to understanding and learning from that, as well as the bike. Of course I have to improve a lot but I think that Johnny is doing such a good job it would be a nice opportunity for me to try and learn and improve.”
At the end of a season of racing and development, other than the much faster Ducati in a straight line, the main four cylinder machines seem much-of-a-muchness in outright performance
“In all fairness my bike felt fine behind Jonathan,” said Lowes. “I stayed with him up the straight, I cannot complain about that. I did not see the BMW. My bike is great, working great. This year we have made another step forward. We have not quite been challenging for the championship but we have been consistently strong. There are a lot of strong points with the Yamaha. I do not feel like it is down on speed. Obviously the Ducati is a step forward but the other bikes we are pretty similar. I think it is quite evenly matched, actually.”