Pata Yamaha's Alex Lowes was not able to benefit from a theoretical improvement in his overall season starting position under the new WorldSBK rules that limit engine revs.
Tyre life was his main issue, despite two days of testing, then qualifying and practice. After race one Lowes said, “I had struggled all week just to feel as comfortable as I want. I did a race run all the way back on Monday and realised I was struggling with the tyres. So we have tried to change the bike quite a lot and then in the first race I still struggled quite a lot with it, with the tyre dropping quite a lot in the second half of the race.”
With the second race change to a flag-to-flag contest just announced after race one, Lowes was unsure of it at that time.
“It is not right really because some people are a lot harder on tyres than others,” he said. “I don’t think it sounds right really. You do all the work all week trying to set your bike up especially as I have done a lot of long runs on old tyres and it is all irrelevant for race two.”
In that planned-interruption second race Lowes went up to fifth, and was just over 2.7 seconds back from the win. “After the pit stops, I felt really strong and thought I could challenge for the podium but I just had a couple of issues holding me back a little bit,” said Lowes. “I felt really strong on the bike and I enjoyed the close nature of the racing. The pit stops did not make it easy but to get through the first round after struggling to feel comfortable during what has actually been quite a tough week for me, these results are not the end of the world. I am reasonably happy but I can' t be completely satisfied with fifth and sixth-place finishes as I want to be fighting for podiums and winning races.”