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MotoGP Austria: Lowes confident of soft tyre improvements

Sam Lowes is hoping new Dunlop softs will bolster his performance in the AustrianGP this weekend, as Elf Marc VDS return to the Red Bull Ring for the second of two back-to-back races.

Struggling to emulate his practice pace and suffering with vibration throughout last week’s StyrianGP, the Brit completed the opening 25-lap race in a disappointing 14th position, collecting just two points as he strove to keep his title fight alive.

The second attempt sees Dunlop provide a new soft tyre to the allocation - a decision that has proved favourable to Lowes in the past - and the 30-year-old is confident he can make the improvements needed for a fruitful weekend ahead of his home race, at Silverstone, at the end of the month.


“I was actually relatively competitive for all the weekend,” Lowes reflected from the Austrian paddock ahead of round 11.

“I knew that I probably didn’t have the pace to win the race but I was top-five every session - qualifying was my worst session in seventh - but good pace, podium potentially but top-five pace and that’s where I was in the first lap so I was relatively happy with how I was feeling.

“Lap seven or eight I started to have a real big vibration in the left side. As always, when the conditions are a bit different to the race weekend and the days before - it was a bit damp and the pressure and everything was all a lot different to what it had been all weekend - so we were just a little bit out of the range and then I need to improve myself.

“When I have this chatter vibration, I really struggle to understand how to take the most from the bike. I dropped back quite a lot in the middle of the race and then at the end, when everyone lost grip, I sort of regrouped a bit, I wasn’t fast but I kept the same pace, because I’d been struggling all race, and went back up into the top-10.

“On the last lap, trying to pass into the top corner for eighth, I ran off track. That was what made it really bad, because if I could have salvaged an eighth, ninth, would have been a bad ride but some points. In the end two points is not great, was a terrible race but my actual weekend was not that bad.

“I’m not far off what I was at the start of the year. This track here in Austria, for me, is really, really difficult. The last weekend, okay, the end result was even worse because of the last few laps but we was fighting for fifth, sixth, seventh place in all the practice sessions. Just before the break we were building back up, fighting for the podium - not really the victory in Assen because Raul was a bit stronger, but fighting for the podium. So I’m not that far off where I feel like I need to be, to be fighting for wins. At the minute it seems very track dependent - where some tracks I’m struggling more, some tracks where I feel good again.

“I think this weekend we can improve. We have a softer tyre, which normally suits me, and I’m really close to figuring it out round here. I do think if I can grind out a nice result, a top-five or fighting for the podium here - which is what I feel like I can do - I think that I’ll head into Silverstone in a great light. If I can do that round here, it means there, I can be real strong. So just keep my head down, put last week behind me and just keep plugging away.

“I love the British Grand Prix, I always have. It always brings out a good atmosphere for everyone, and brings out a lot of fire for me.

“Obviously the home race will bring out something extra. Silverstone is one that I know quite well, and go quite well at. I feel, in my head, I’m looking forward to go there and win the British Grand Prix. It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of, something that I really would take a lot from, add to my career and something that I’m gonna try and do.


“I’m very excited, very excited that there’ll be fans there, hopefully a lot of people can attend - obviously still strange times, we seem to be getting a bit better, but it’s still a little bit strange. I don’t quite know it will work with the paddock and interaction with people - I don’t know the rules behind that - but even with the crowd and seeing the people in the grandstands, it will still feel mega.”

The Austrian Grand Prix sees Dunlop provide its softest ever tyre compound for the Moto2 class, a decision that Lowes is revelling in due to his prowess on the softer rubber.

“We’ve actually never used it, the zero compound. We’ve not had a tyre that soft since we’ve gone to the bigger tyres. Obviously this track is not - I mean, it looked it in MotoGP last week - but it’s not that difficult on tyres, given the fact that it’s a lot of stops-starts, you’re not on the edge for a very long time. Normally my riding style is I make a lot of time on entry, so if I can, with the soft tyres, stop in a quicker time and shorter distance, then obviously with a track like this, is a big benefit.

“Last year in Aragon they bought the soft tyre for the second weekend and I managed to take good benefits, so hopefully it will continue in that way. I’m looking forward to it.


“I think there’ll be no issue for tyre life, we can do a lot with the number one which we had last week - we could do forty laps probably - so I think that if it is quicker, it will be the race tyre. It’s nice, also, I’m happy to see it from Dunlop, to bring some new stuff and it’s normally better for me.

“[For Dunlop] to develop the tyres for us, is only the Moto2 bikes that can do it because they really force the tyre in a different way. I know Dunlop is doing a really big effort and good job in world endurance and there’s some crossover with the tyres but it’s really different how a world endurance bike works a tyre to a Moto2.

“Some tracks the allocation is quite hard, and then it’s definitely going in a softer way, which is really good to see. I think Dunlop is doing a great job honestly, I have a good relationship with them and it’s nice to see that going forward.

“The thing with Dunlop, even when it’s a hard allocation, it just means that, maybe qualifying is a bit harder but the race, obviously the pace is the same throughout. Maybe five or six years ago, some of the harder allocations were a little bit, you felt like you couldn’t ride very well. Now, the hard allocation tyre works quite normal, especially after a few laps, so I’m definitely, when it’s a hard allocation, not as worried as the past.

“It’s good to see them trying stuff, bringing new things - they did the race last weekend saw that we had a margin and they bring a soft one here so I think that’s good for them, good for us and good for the racing.

“I think a softer allocation is good. If your tyres drop in the last three or four laps of the race, that’s how it should be, you should be able to manage it over the weekend or your set-up or as a rider, if not use the hardest one. I feel like it should be like that. I know it’s not always that simple with the one-make-tyre and you don’t want anything to happen, don’t want any issues but I think it’s good, it’s good for the class and everybody. Like I say, it’s normally better for me so I’m happy when I see it,” he concluded confidently.

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