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Donington WorldSBK: Lowes mystified by pace problems

Alex Lowes had great expectations on Sunday on his works Kawasaki but it was not to be the day he wanted on home soil.

He fell in the Superpole race, very early after Rea and he had made a one-two Kawasaki tandem that was leaving the peloton behind even on lap two when Lowes came off at the bottom of the Old Hairpin.]

“Tough day, really,” said Lowes. “I expected to be really strong. In the mixed conditions I was strong, to be honest. I felt good on the bike. We have some experience from Aragon on the intermediate tires, so I was able to put the semi-dry setup with the intermediate tires on the grid, so I’m guessing some of the guys still had the wet setup. So I thought, I have a chance here.


“Then the crash, it was completely my mistake. But into the old hairpin, it’s down the bottom of the hill and on the outside of the track there’s a lot of wet patches. So I was so conscious of not overshooting and hitting the wet patch, that I turned it too tight and caught the white line. I just touched it, and it was just enough. There was quite a bit of moisture on the line. The crash was a shame really, because my pace, I would have had a good race and after yesterday’s podium it would have been good.

“To manage this far in the race, I don’t really know what happened. I had a good start. Obviously, started tenth after the crash in the superpole race. I managed to get some positions in the first corner, and I was just slow. I’ve been fast every dry session. I’ve been able to low 28’s. Even in morning warmup with a used tyre I was doing low 28’s. In the race, I was doing high 28s and struggling. I was spinning. I felt like Tai Woffinden coming on the top of Hollywood. I was sliding that much.”

Lowes clarified why he was having the issues, saying, “When I said I felt slow, in terms of lap time. The pace I had was too slow. I couldn’t understand it. If you look, my best lap I think was a 28.7 or 28.9, and then the second-to-last I was still doing 29.0. I couldn’t go any faster. I was just really struggling for rear grip. I don’t really know why, to be honest.

“I was annoyed at the end because Mikey passed me and we had a little bit of a battle. We’ve had obviously quite a lot of battles over the years. I came down into T1. He broke a bit earlier than I expected and got it a bit sideways. So I’d gone to the left of him and sort of panicked a bit and got in a false neutral and ran wide. It lost me the chance to have a good last-lap battle with him.

‘So, not only did I have a tough race where I was slower than I was expected, I didn’t get to have a good scrap on the last lap with Mikey. I came back to him a bit, but… In terms of the result and the pace, I was really disappointed with the second race. I can’t really explain why I didn’t have the grip. I would say I was half a second to 0.7 of a second a lap slower than I’ve been every other dry session, so I don’t really know why.

“I was consistent, which don’t give me anything obviously, but overall today has been disappointing. I look at the weekend, it’s another weekend. First time here on the Kawasaki. I was fast in all conditions. It wasn’t easy. We gained some points on third in the championship, so there’s a positive side. That’s what you have to do in racing. If you just look at the negatives, it’s a tough old job. So there were plenty of positives.”

Lowes, despite his great experience at Donington, and partly because of it, had a strange Superpole race crash as he clipped the inside white line at the apex. Which was obscured by his team-mate.

Because Jonny was there I didn’t even see the white line. So what happens is it’s still third gear, quite a fast corner. I was set to the corner. If there’s a rider in front of you, from the back you just see their bike and then their body. Their body obviously covers a lot of the kerb. So you don’t really know where the white line is. You’re sort of guessing. The time I seen it, I couldn’t adjust.
“I didn’t expect it to go as fast as it did. It was just almost instinct. I was on the throttle to come out of the corner quite late. That’s why I just went slowly. The front on the white line. If you’re a rider, you know that’s the hardest thing to do there. The easiest thing to do is stay real wide and hit the wet patch. To get the bike set up and hit the inside line on the exit, normally in the dry it means you’ve got it perfectly but in them conditions I should have known. I was a little bit blindsided. I had done a good move there on Tom on the first lap. The bike was working well. I’m disappointed with that. But like I said, the speed was there. If we don’t take the positives, then like I said, it’s a tough job. I felt very in control. It was disappointment.”

Lowes did see one funny side later in the day, as he had to ride a bike with some crash ‘modifications’ that should have held back his pace as he struggled back on track to score points in the Superpole race. “By the time I got back on the bike… It’s amazing. The right handlebar was so far down with the brake and the throttle, and the foot peg was literally no more than half an inch. You complain all weekend about the setup of the bike, and I was doing similar times within a second of the guys at the front. You look at the bike and think, ‘that shouldn’t be possible.’ You come in and you moan so much, then you ride the bike like that and you think maybe you need to complain a little bit less.”

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