Kawasaki's Alex Lowes has had to fight through more bad luck again this year, with illness getting in the way at times. For the past few WorldSBK rounds, even with the odd stroke of misfortune hitting him, he’s pulled himself up to sixth place overall, and looked every inch one of the top contenders behind the top three.
There has been friction in the KRT squad in the past between the two halves of the garage, but behind the scenes it is a highly collaborative technical exercise, even if they are strong rivals on racedays. Lowes appears to have a good personal and working realtionship with his team-mate Jonathan Rea, who is still involved in the championship fight in the run-up to Villicum.
When asked how closely Lowes and Rea worked together, Lowes said: “Me and Jonathan, I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” he stated. “If he asks me a question about the bike, if I try a tyre or something, we speak fully open, like I was with Michael (van der Mark, when both were Yamaha riders). The relationship is really good.
"I feel like I’m riding the best I’ve ever ridden, genuinely. How I’m riding on the bike, how hard I'm pushing. I’ve not ridden much better than that in my career. I think that the bike is improving a bit, and it looks like everybody thinks that the Kawasaki, because Jonathan has won so much, how good the bike is, but it’s tough now for us, I believe.”
The Kawasaki has a clear engine disadvantage and an overall design that is maybe now starting to show its age. But for Lowes it is also having rivals that are very hard to beat. “I think Jonny is riding well, but you see some other guys have some advantages that it’s hard to pass, hard to overcome.”
When asked if a new and more revvy, more powerful engine in the Kawasaki would sort things out, Lowes went deep into the answer, “It’s hard to sit here and say they’re winning because the bike is fast, because every rider in the pit lane thinks that someone else is on something better.
Any rider you ever ask thinks that your bike is doing something better than mine. That’s just how we are, because you don’t want to say he’s doing better than me. But the reality is, the speed difference is massive.
"If you look at all the races through the year, the acceleration and the speed difference, every time it gets hot on Pirelli, you can’t ride the bike as hard, from a rider point of view. So, the machine comes more important. In any hot race, the Ducati is a lot better. It’s not just because the riders are amazing in the heat. It doesn’t work like that in our game.
"When it’s cooler, we can ride our bike hard. When it’s hot, we can’t. That said, our bike when it is cooler, when you’ve got a lot of grip, you can see how good the bike is. I’m not saying the bike is not good, but I think to say just more power, it obviously would help, but to get more power normally you lose in other areas.
"If we could keep our bike and just have a little bit more power up the straight, obviously you’d be faster. But normally, when you develop a bike and you have more power, then you can’t accelerate as well. Otherwise Kawasaki would do it. It’s really tricky because we’re really squeezing everything out of this bike.
'It’s essentially quite an old bike. Just to say give me more power and we will be beating them guys, I don’t think that’s fair to say, but it seems like they do have a big advantage. They’re hard to race against. But, they’re doing very well and you can’t complain Alvaro not passing people on the brakes, because why would you pass someone on the brakes when you don’t need to? He rides the bike exactly how it should be ridden for the strengths that he has, and he’s doing a good job.”