WorldSBK Argentina: Chatter ends Lowes’ podium hopes

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

There have been some tough times for Alex Lowes since he joined Kawasaki, as well as a win and several podiums to remember.

But this season, after he got sick at Most and halted his progrews somewhat, he has been on an upward spiral.

His is now fifth overall, after finishing sixth, fifth and finally fourth in the Villicum races. “It’s just a shame about the qualifying,” said Lowes, who would have like to have taken at least one podium and could have challenged harder had he not been off the third row of the grid in the first two Argentine races.

Passsing ability is not his issue, it is being close enough to pass the fastest bikes. “I think you see on TV, we lacked the speed to be able to fight,” said Lowes. “The way Rinaldi passes, he didn’t just pass me. He passed me and then he’s three bike lengths ahead before you get to the top of the straight.

“Yesterday I was in the mix with the Hondas and some BMWs and the Ducatis. When you start in ninth and you’re in the middle of all that, it’s so hard to go forward and show your pace. Today I was happy with the Superpole race because when everybody’s got grip, it’s hard.

“I was quite aggressive at the start. I managed to pick my way forward. Again, I was stuck behind Rinaldi and Lecuona. I felt like I had a bit more speed, but managed to pass Iker on the last lap and had a bit of a battle, so that was good fun. In the last race, I didn’t expect the SCX to drop as much as it did.

“The last six or seven laps I was struggling. Had some chatter, especially turn two and three, I was really sort of dropping unexpected. Mid-race I felt like Jonny was struggling to stay there. I could nearly get away, but unfortunately P4 again. Wooden spoon. I feel like on genuine pace, if you look at all the sessions and take everything into consideration, I’m the next one consistently behind them guys, which is good.

When it gets hot like it did, really hot this afternoon, we struggle on our bike. All the races where the second race gets hot, we struggle. We showed that today. So, it was a shame but I rode well. I have to be happy. I’ll try and get on the podium at Indonesia.”

Lowes said that there has not actually been one big change in the middle of the season, even if it looks that way in the results. “If you look back, I don’t think it’s as big a difference as it looks like,” said Alex. “I was sick at Most. At Donington I was on the podium and fast all weekend. Most was like the bad weekend, but I was third on Friday, I think, and did a long run. I was a bit in the mix there.

“The start of the season was OK. I had two mechanicals from fourth place at Assen, otherwise the results would look better, even if they were fifth places. Similar to now, sort of thing. I think after last year struggling with injury, I’m just building my confidence up. I made some tweaks at the mid-season test on the rear of the bike.

“A bit more confidence to get a bit more out of the new tyre to put me in the mix in qualifying, which obviously let me down this weekend. I think it’s just a combination of things. But I’m riding the best I’ve ridden and I’m enjoying it.”

On his tyre choices for the two long races, Lowes said, “The track was a lot hotter today. Even if it does look much on the numbers, there’s always a tipping point on the track where you lose that three or four tenths. Today the second race, we just went over that. I needed that support on the brakes to get the bike stopped, so I didn’t force the bike in the corners. So that’s why we chose that SCX.”

Rea said that his race two loss to Rea, still technically in with a chance of the championship, was down to a late mistake, not anything more consiratorial.

“I was gutted because I was struggling a bit with chatter,” said Lowes. “When he came past I felt all right. I’ve finished behind him quite a lot in a few races. I wanted to at least have a go on the last lap today. I think in T10 I could have maybe had a chance to pass on the last lap, but unfortunately I had a false neutral onto the back straight.

“The only really negative points with this track when it doesn’t get used much, if you run off line it’s so dirty that rather than losing 0.2, you lose a second. If you run off on one of the corners that’s dirty. It’s a shame, because on the last lap I was a bit quicker and to show that I could have had a go. Shame, because I felt like I had good pace.”