WorldSBK Phillip Island: Podium but ‘opportunity missed’ for Lowes

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

WorldSBK’s‘Big Three’ riders have kept many a good man off the podium in 2022, but this time around in race one at Phillip Island Alex Lowes (KRT) took a fully deserved rostrum.

With the continuation of the rains that were around at the start of race one, or a better-timed pitstop, maybe more than a distant third place behind Jonathan Rea and Toprak Razgatlioglu would have been his reward.

Lowes was happy to be a podium sitter, and said “A strange race, but to be honest I felt like I was one of the faster riders in the wet and the dry. Maybe made the wrong choice with the pit stop, but I was fast in the wet and fast in the dry. I’m happy to be on the podium.

“I just want to be battling at the front and showing my speed. I know I can be fast. I enjoyed the race. It’s always a strange race when you have a pit stop in the middle, but it was a bit different. Tomorrow looks like it’s probably going to be wet or definitely a lot colder, so it’s going to be different again. But I feel like I can do a good job, so sleep well tonight and try to finish the year strong tomorrow.

When asked who calls the shots in the pitstops, Lowes had a short think about it, then said, “In the end, I’m on the bike. I can come in when I want. We had a bit of a plan before the race, that they were going to decide with more information, but they didn’t so I had to decide myself, and maybe I was too late.

“I was thinking, ‘I’ll just pit as soon as I see the first person pit. But, then when I was in front, I didn’t know when to pit. I wanted to use the wet tyre as much as possible, because I knew it was hard as possible but it still felt okay.

“So, I maybe just missed the window a little bit. So easy to sit here now and say, ‘I should have done this or that.’ There’s always going to be winners and losers. But my pace when I came back out was good, even with the hard rear wet setting on the bike. If it’s dry tomorrow, I’m quite confident.”

Lowes confirmed that full wets were the only choice on the startline, even though it did seem that the track drying out Wass maybe going to be the mosy likely outciome - and it ultimately was the outcome.

“It was too wet,” he said. “It dried very fast, but the first three laps you would have lost 15 seconds probably, and risked maybe making a mistake. So the right call was wets then slicks. Maybe just one lap or two before I pit.”

These kind of strategy-within-astrategy races in two halves, are they more exciting than a straight race, or merely more stressful.

“It was exciting,” said Lowes. “If you said before the race you’re going to be on the podium, I would have been well happy. That was the target for the weekend. I felt like maybe I had the chance to win the race, because I was at the front in the wet. I also got the best lap in the dry.

“So it’s an opportunity missed, I feel like a little bit. Strange race. Maybe I could have took advantage of it, but it can work against you as well and I could have been seventh or whatever. So, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the race. I did a nice move on Alvaro into turn nine, which was good fun. But two more goes tomorrow.”

Lowes always seems to go well at PI, having won on a Kawasaki here in his first ride for the Japanese factory.

“The bike is quite stable, so in the faster corners the chassis on the bike is really nice, especially stability around this track is quite important. I think I’ve always gone well at this track. Even when the Yamaha was a bit slower I was still always really fast.

“Even the first time I came here on the Suzuki, I think I was quickest in the testing before I injured myself. I’ve always gone really well at this track anyway. I think the bike is pretty good, I figure everywhere but pretty good here. So, it helps.”