Alex Lowes had had a few falls recently and the cumulative effect appears to have been reducing his WorldSBK race-long push.
At a very physical track like Most it was tough work, especially in the last few laps of Race Two. But, at least Lowes had a better machine set-up for that race and was fighting hard inside the top five. He only sixth when Michael Ruben Rinaldi jumped him near the end.
“It was not too bad,” said Lowes. “In this last race, the first few laps I felt quite good. I was able to follow the full grid. Then obviously the second half was not as easy for me. I had some restrictions on myself and couldn’t ride like I want. This track was a physical track, and not an easy one for Kawasaki. We saw how hard Johnny was having to push. I think today with the bike we made some good steps forward. I was a lot better entering the corners and I was able to flow a lot more. On this track, you need to be smooth and flowing. I felt better today with the bike. That’s for sure.”
Halfway, almost, through the year Lowes summed up his season so far, and what may happen in the second half.
“It’s been tough, but I started the year strong,” he recalled. “The last three rounds I’ve had some restrictions. I feel like I’m riding good enough to be on the podium, but I’m not able to do it at the minute. It’s not just because of the bike. It’s also clear the other bikes are improving a lot and we have to work hard. The guys have won the championship a lot because they’re a good team and I’m sure they’re going to work in the testing and we’re going to keep improving.
"It’s so tight now in world superbike. It’s easy to be like Chaz, who has been on the podium this year, and then in the next race you’re in 15th place. It never used to be like that in World Superbike. If you had a bad weekend as one of the top guys you were sixth or seventh, but now it’s not like that. You can be on a factory bike, riding well and finish 11th.
So, the championship is changing for the better. I think that’s great. But if you’re not quite on the pace, it’s easy to be between 5th and 12th, and the battle is quite close. Honda are working hard. BMW are working hard. Michael is pushing hard. All the guys are pushing hard. So, it’s easy to be in that group. At the minute, with the restrictions I have, I’ve dropped into that group. But I feel like I’m riding well enough when I get OK to be at the front like I was for the six or seven laps in that race. That’s my situation.”
Lowes has maybe now had to revise his championship ambitions in 2021. “My target for this year was to be in the top three,” he stated. “Obviously now I’m quite far, so I guess I just try to be back on the podium as much as possible. That’s my target. This race today honestly, I was so happy because I had some pain killers before the race, which I don’t normally have, and for the first three or four laps I could ride properly.
"It’s the first time I’ve touched my right elbow slider. I’m like, what happened? Because I was in the correct position. When this was happening, I was on the same pace, let’s say normal pace. Then I started to struggle, but it was nice for me because it proves that I have some restrictions, I have to accept that and work hard to be better in Navarra.”
His limitations have seen him fight in a group behind where he would normally want to be, but that has maybe given him some insight into how the the ‘other’ bikes are working in WorldSBK now?
“Everybody has their own problems and everyone has their own good points,” said Lowes. “The Honda is fast, for sure. It looks a bit aggressive. They struggle to stop. BMW stops quite well and turns well. The Kawasaki, we do everything quite well. Nothing I would say absolutely spectacular, but we do everything quite well. So, it’s interesting when you’re fighting with them guys because sometimes you watch someone on Ducati and you think, it’s so easy.
"You see today with Scott, or even Bautista in 2019 when the bike was brand-new, if they found a window, this bike is gorgeous to ride. But it looks like the window is quite small. Some weekends, it looks difficult. Kawasaki the window is a lot bigger, but maybe when the other bikes are in the window, it looks like maybe they drop behind a little bit.
"I know the Yamaha really well. From 2016 when we started the project, it’s just gone like this. Now the bike is fast also. I think it’s the easiest bike to ride. Since we have these new tires, now we can race with the soft tire. If you can ride the bike like that, it’s why we see so many Yamahas are doing quite well in all different tracks. So, I think they are the danger ones over the season.”