Britain’s Sam Lowes is a rookie but has had one year to mentally prepare for the big switch to the MotoGP in 2017. Already under contract with Aprilia while riding in Moto2, the Isle of Man-based rider is fully focused to take on the opportunity of a lifetime.
Like twin brother Alex, Lowes has changed his focus and his way of operating, and has even hired a psychological coach to help get the very best from day one this year. We sat down with the little darling at Aprilia’s team launch jolly-up to get the skinny on how he is feeling right now:
Which are the main differences between Moto2 and MotoGP
“The first things are acceleration and deceleration, the speed in corner exit and stopping. Now it’s more normal and I’m am focusing on how to ride the bike and get the best from it. So I’m working to change my riding style, to be in a different position in the middle of the corner, to be able to pick up quickly the bike and to use the horsepower on the fat part of the tyre. This is what we worked on at the last test. I had good feeling so far. We had a good work program and I’m happy to go to Qatar to make another step forward.”
What about the electronics?
“In Moto2 there is nothing. You put in fuel, change the suspension and ride. In MotoGP the first thing is to understand the bike.”
Other rookies like Folger, for example, were faster from the beginning. Does this comparison make you feel extra pressure?
“Racing is different from testing and last year I was obsessed by the laptimes. I was fast in the test but I was in a different position. We are still working at the development of the machine and the target is to prepare the season. I’m not worried by the comparison with Folger or Zarco and we are not too far.
“I used to fight with them in Moto2 so if they do well, this means that the potential of the Moto2 riders is high and I we can also be there. They have the bike from Yamaha and cannot change much. For me it’s different. I’m still not riding the bike I will have to race in Qatar. We are testing so many things and it’s important to understand the right direction because we are giving inputs for the next developments of the bike, especially for the next six months.
“Then, of course, if we are arrive in Mugello or Silverstone and we are still far, then I will feel the pressure , but not now. In the past I made the mistake to look too much at the laptimes, I learned a lot from this. If I just put fuel in the bike and focus only in this, I will be much faster.”
Who is in the best position, you or Alex?
“He did two good races in Australia. Being in MotoGP and in this team, I can say that I’m in a better position, but he is also happy. He feels good at Pata Yamaha and is excited by the Suzuka Eight-Hours project.”
Your boss Romano Albesiano said that he believes in your talent but you need to learn to manage your energy at the best. Was this your weak point?
“In the past I was obsessed by the laptimes and I was pushing all the time. Now I understand that you cannot do this in MotoGP. First you need to learn the bike, and also understand when I can push or not. So I’m riding at 80 per cent to understand everything. I’m working a lot also off the track to be more calm. You just need to be clever. It’s not just riding, it’s the whole package and I’m happy to keep on learning. I feel I made a good step inside.
You have a mental coach now?
“Yes, this winter I started to work with a Chilean professional called Eugenio. He works on the brain from a scientific point of view, on the focus, the attention, the reaction. The first thing it was important , they found a brain…”
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
“My focus is really high and this is my strength but I need to improve to manage the pressure during the race. I need to stay calm and neutral and to keep constantly focused over a race distance.”
What advice does Aleix Espargaro give you?
“To be calm and patient. We speak a lot together because it is important to work in the same direction. We have the responsibility of a factory team, there is not a satellite team to gather other information.”