How did Lowes go from not feeling "too comfortable" to fighting for an Estoril podium?

Monday, 23 May 2022 04:51 GMT

Lowes finished fourth in Race 2 but spent most of the 21-lap race fighting for a podium despite a difficult start to the weekend

The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship visited the Circuito Estoril for the 2022 Estoril Round and it was a mixed affair for Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) after battling for the podium in Race 2 but endured a difficult Friday and Saturday at the Portuguese venue. After Race 2, Lowes explained how he and Kawasaki were able to turn their weekend around to fight for a podium at Estoril.

Lowes started the Estoril Round with tenth in Friday’s Free Practice 1 session, lapping more than a second off the pace of the fastest rider. In Free Practice 2, he was again more than a second down on the pace with Lowes setting a best time of 1’37.483s across both sessions to put him 11th in the combined classification.

In Saturday’s Tissot Superpole Session, Lowes managed to secure a third-row start as he claimed eighth place with a time  of1’36.538s and this translated into a seventh-place finish for the British rider as he looked to move up the order. The tricky conditions of the Tissot Superpole Race enabled Lowes to move up to sixth and take a second row start for Race 2 which would prove vital for Lowes.

Lowes remained in sixth place at the end of Lap 1 but soon moved up to fourth to challenge Alvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati) as he moved into third place on Lap 3 of 21; remaining there and holding off the challenge from the Spanish rider until Lap 10. Although he had dropped back to fourth place, Lowes was able to remain with the lead trio until he ran wide at Turn 1 at the start of Lap 14 which cost him more than a second to the leading group. From there, he was able to bring his Kawasaki ZX-10RR machine home in fourth place to equal his best result of 2022 so far.

Explaining the turnaround between Friday and Sunday, Lowes said: “We’re aiming to close the gap to the top three. I’ve had a tough weekend. From the first practice, I didn’t feel too comfortable with the bike and I was pretty slow. We made a big change after the first race for Sunday. The weather in the morning went against us, but in the Superpole Race, I changed to the SC0 in the rear, but I felt good, like the bike was working really well until the end of the race. I felt, starting in sixth position for Race 2, if I got a good start maybe I could stay with the guys for the first few laps. Made some good passes, really enjoyed the race, was able to stick in there. Unfortunately, in the last five or six laps, I was a little bit slower. I struggled a bit with the SCX tyre dropping off quite a lot and I couldn’t take the corner speed I wanted. That was a shame, but it was so much fun to be up there fighting. Obviously, that’s where we want to be, and I could finish the weekend with some confidence and feeling quite positive.”

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