WorldSBK Assen: Frustrated Lowes ‘my pace was better’

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

For a rider of Alex Lowes’ experience, and being equipped with a KRT Kawasaki like six times champion Jonathan Rea, a fourth place finish in WorldSBK race two at Assen was hardly the stuff of dreams.

But in another way it was, given that he had two DNFs from the opening races. A stone thrown up by another rider’s rear tyre broke his oil cooler on Saturday. Then an unspecified technical issue in Sunday’s sprint deprived him of a strong finish.

So fourth in race two was something of a salvation job for a rider who was blameless in the first two no-scores.

“Yeah, I was pleased with myself during the weekend, but my pace was better than that.” Lowes said about the final action. “I shouldn’t have been in that position unfortunately, when Jonathan and Toprak went out. I think I should have been able to get on the podium. I didn’t feel as good as I expected in that race. If you look, starting from the fourth row to get fourth is not too bad. I don’t know if it was the lack of experience of yesterday’s race, the last part of the race I didn’t feel that good today. When Redding and Bassani were battling, I had to have a few laps trying to save the tyres and to try and go fast at the end because the rear was spinning a lot more than I anticipated. So, it was an okay end to the weekend. I feel like I’ve been a lot better this weekend, and the results showed. You always leave a bit frustrated.”

Lowes had no idea if his tech issue in the Superpole race was as a result of his first day broken oil cooler. “Don’t know,” he said. “Do you know what, it’s hard sometimes, because obviously the first race, the crash in Aragon, trying to stay with the front guys, was a shame. But then this weekend, you did nothing wrong and you end up with just one result.

“When people look they just see one DNF, another DNF. But the bike has never broke on me before. Yesterday it wasn’t our fault, and then today we have a mechanical problem that I’ve never had since I joined the team.”

Lowes was riding with Scott Redding for a time, who had such bad issues in the first round in Spain that his best result had been 15th. Was it a surprise for Lowes to be riding with him?

“Not really,” he said. “Look at Mikey van der Mark, with one leg finishing eighth. Last year I had a race with Michael here. Even though they’ve gone backwards, Redding was challenging to win here last year. He won races last year. I battled with Michael a lot last year on the Kawasaki on the BMW. I don’t really think they’ve gone backwards, it’s just Scott has joined the team coming from the Ducati and it’s going to take time to adjust. If Michael had done the winter testing, I think last year the first round of the year he was battling for the podium with me, on the BMW. So, it’s not gone backwards. I know the three guys at the front are going fast, but it’s tight now. It doesn’t take much to be in there. Scott was riding well. The bike was fast. It’s just going to take him time to adjust. I think when Michael is back healthy and they’re pushing each other, I don’t think it’s as far away as they think. I think he thinks it’s not too bad. Not surprised at all.”

After a lot of testing in the winter, then two opening rounds with just a week between them, is the nearly month long gap until the next race at Estoril annoying for Lowes?

He joked, “It will be, because I have two babies at home, so ten days at home will feel like six months at home! I’m going to try to get a bit of training, maybe nip down see the team and do some Supermoto or something to break up the break. But, we have some pretty big gaps in the calendar.

“Even the winter you don’t ride for eight weeks, sometimes you wonder how you’re going to feel when you get back on the bike, but after a couple of laps you just feel normal again. It’s quite a physical track, Estoril, so the first session for sure is going to be, ‘Are you ready for it?’ That will be quite good. But it is the same for us all. I feel like I have had a pretty stressful first two rounds so a couple of weeks off, a bit of a reset will be perfect for me.”

Picture: GeeBee Images