KRT’s Alex Lowes was back in the mix at Magny-Cours with a run of three finishes directly behind the WorldSBK big three.
Few riders have had as complicated a time in the past few years as Kawasaki’s Lowes. Injury, recent debilitating illness and simple bad luck at times have held him down among the midfield rather than being the first rider behind the leading trio, but in Magny-Cours that is exactly what he was. Fourth in all three races, having qualified a second row starter each time.
“Three fourth places, naturally you’re disappointed because it would have been nice to have a podium, but I think it was a solid weekend’s work,” said Lowes in the media scrum.
Lowes was up against some straight-line fast Ducatis again, from Bautista down. “We lack a little bit of speed, especially when the tyres are new because it’s too easy for people to pass us and very difficult to pass,” the now 32-year-old recognised. “So, when your bike is a little bit down on speed you have to pass from further back so, it’s more difficult to pass. But obviously, our bike is very good in other areas so, there’s always a compromise.
“Certainly at the start of the races, you have to really risk a lot on the brakes to pass, and it’s not easy. I’m not as confident as Johnny [Rea] to do these big moves. For me, I’m a little bit more wary and it allows guys to pass me a little bit too easy. We’re at the level now where it’s easy to go from fourth to seventh and then so hard to come back. So, this is an area we need to work on a little bit.”
Lowes was also asked about the crash with Rea and Alvaro Bautista. He said on Sunday, “I still haven’t seen the video of the last race but I guess Jonny was diving up the inside. Alvaro, even though everybody thinks he doesn’t brake late, he actually brakes late and he stops quite close to the corner. It looks like Jonny’s had in his mind that he needed to pass him there to do a good last sector, otherwise he’s just going to pass him in the straight. That’s what Jonny would be thinking. When he’s arrived there, they’ve arrived at the same piece of track and obviously Jonny was behind and a little bit impatient. He’s got it wrong.
“Obviously, I feel sorry for Alvaro. He’s done a solid year this year. Made a big step on when he was here in 2019. He’s a lot more measured and calculated this year. But, it’s been coming. Every race it could have been like that, from all of them, even some of the moves Alvaro did. Yesterday I saw some moves late, but obviously in this instance, Jonny made a mistake, so it’s correct. I know what they were saying about yesterday when he was a lap down, he should have been out of the way. But the racing is great.
“The racing is great in Superbikes. It’s nice to allow them to race, but obviously it needs to be safe.
“If you’re on a quicker bike, it’s normal that people have to pass you somewhere. But on the same side, I think Alvaro is doing a great job and it’s not fair for him to be out of the race for not his mistake.”
Lowes was asked if Magny-Cours was one of his favourite circuits, as he had been on the podium here before, and he replied - maybe… “In the rain on the Kawasaki, so, not really in the dry. I feel like in the dry conditions this was a good performance for me. I don’t remember being that fast here on the Yamaha. I think I had a podium once, but it’s normally tricky conditions in Magny-Cours - and because I’m English, it’s normal for me. So, I’ve had some podiums in the wet.
“To be strong in the dry and even strong compared to Johnny - consistently - I think it’s a good step for me. I’m riding quite well. But, naturally I want to try to improve quite a little bit more.”
Lowes also said that one of the reasons he did well at Magny-Cours in all three races was the result of the recent Catalunya test.
“At Montmelo test, we changed something from Showa with the rear shock, just a dampening in the rear shock, which is a relatively small change compared to some of the changes we’ve made,” he explained. “I’ve had so much more confidence on the gas to drive the bike off the corner. When it was getting a little bit hotter, I knew that I could do a decent job. The bike felt good. This is the first race weekend that we’ve been using it. Straightaway on Friday in the wet conditions, I had a lot more confidence on the gas. So, it worked in all conditions.”