After missing several WorldSBK races recently since his right hand and wrist injury held him back, KRT's Alex Lowes not only got through Saturday’s full 21-lap race at Villicum he was just over three seconds away from a podium position that he held in the early part of the race.
Fourth on the grid after Superpole, Lowes was able to not just ride at pace but fight for his final place, and re-take his frequent companion, Axel Bassani (MotoCorsa) to get back into fourth at the flag.
It wasn’t easy for Lowes or his still-recovering body. “It’s a tough track here, lots of change of direction,” he said. “Not being 100% fit, I had to really dig deep to be smooth. Luckily, the track position helped me. I was behind Bassani for a lot of the race and it made the race go a little bit faster.
“In racing, you have to look at your situation, and fourth place today for me was a really good result and I’m really, really happy. Obviously, I’ll try and do better tomorrow, but with this special livery for Kawasaki, it was nice to get a good, solid ride.”
Lowes is now in the second difficult year with Kawasaki, usually brought about by the effects of Covid-19 on the race calendar, and a series of injuries that have never seen him ride in 2021 in a fully fit condition. But things are obviously moving forward.
“To be honest, we had a good test in the middle of the season at Portimao,” said Lowes. “Since that, I believe I’ve been a lot faster. Magny-Cours I was challenging for the podium. Then unfortunately, we picked up this injury in the turn-one crash in Barcelona. I’ve not been able to perform like I want, but was close to the podium in Barcelona, which is a tough track.
"I feel like I’m riding the best I’ve ridden. I just haven’t got the body to capitalise on the results. Today was a good step in a good direction. Let’s see how the body fares up to have another two goes on Sunday.”
Lowes even had the difficulty of a tech issue robbing him of some practice time at Villicum.
With Toprak Razgatlioglu running away with race one, and in the best position for being crowned champion as it stands, Lowes may have limited potential to be able to run interference for Jonathan Rea from now until the end. That is part of the plan, now he is back racing again.
“The target this weekend, one of the main reasons to miss Portimao was to be fit this weekend to really try and help Jonny. Toprak has been really strong. Him and the Yamaha package and what they’re doing, they’re very strong. I’ve not been fast enough to help him but, we’ve still got some races to go so we’ll give it a shot and I will never give up until the last lap of the last race.
“Some tweaks tonight then let’s try and get a bit closer tomorrow. We have a good position on the grid. The 10-lap race is going to be a little bit easier for me.”