WorldSBK Jerez: Lack of Kawasaki experience lets down Lowes

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

Alex Lowes entered the Jerez WorldSBK weekend as the championship points leader, with a race win already under his shiny new Kawasaki factory rider belt and two good tests to work on race setup as he really learns his new bike’s character. Or at least a bike new to him.

In relative terms he has struggled so far in Spain, particularly with front-end feel on the corner entry and thus a lack of confidence that was the last thing anybody needed at an overheated Jerez.

Looking to move up to a strong starting position in Superpole a mini-disaster saw him crash out by losing the front, leaving his 14th of the grid. The fifth row, in other words.

“I tucked the front in the first lap of Superpole, which was a shame, as it put pressure on for the one lap on the qualifying tyre,” said Lowes afterwards. “In the race I struggled a lot more than I expected.

“The SC2 front tyre worked really well for me on Friday afternoon and I did a lot of laps on it, but today it did not seem to work as well. I think I need a bit more experience of the Kawasaki in hot conditions to get the most out of it.”

Strange to hear a rider with the experience of Lowes speak about inexperience but he is very much in the early stages of working out his Kawasaki’s full potential, and how it all fits together in all conditions.

“It is easy to forget that this is my second proper ride on it. When you go around Jerez in the winter and the weather is cool you just ride around, can do loads of laps, and everything feels good. Then you come here in these temperatures and everything feels a bit different. I did not feel that comfortable on the bike and had to just manage the race the best I could and we will try to improve a bit for tomorrow.”

What is missing specifically from a potentially stronger set-up is in corner entry, which has only just appeared because of the freakishly hot conditions, according to Lowes. “The bike is so strong on the entry normally, but now as soon as the grip drops I struggle to stop the bike and turn the bike.

The Ducati and some of the other guys I think you can see it in these hot conditions, is a lot of advantage for them. Some guys that maybe struggled in the past were really strong there. When it is extreme conditions like this, it probably highlights some of the negatives of the bike. That said, Jonathan finished on the podium, so I have enough data to look at for tomorrow and try to go better.”

Lowes denied that part of the issue may be the high expectations after such a strong debut at Phillip Island in early March.

“It is like anything in life, there is some expectation for this weekend and next weekend, but I know I could ride the bike well,” he said. “I did not finish third in the world last year because I cannot ride well. I did not win in Australia just by a fluke.

“I finished last year on the podium in Qatar in the races and I started this year on the podium. This track is a bit more difficult and it does not lend itself to the strengths of the Kawasaki. Some of the other guys on the Kawasaki are struggling as well. Obviously Jonathan has a lot of experience and has done a great job.

“I cannot worry about any of that. It is alright saying why not do a better job? If you are not fast enough, you cannot do a better job. I just need to try to improve the bike for tomorrow, do a better job tomorrow, and then keep racking up the points when I cannot have a good result.”