After two years in WSB fighting with an underdog Suzuki, Alex Lowes is a factory Yamaha rider. Don’t be fooled if the season starts slowly, he says. It’s going to be good
Coming from the GSX-R1000, how did the R1 feel?
Great. I did about five laps and came into the pits with a big smile on my face. When you change teams, that’s when you understand the level of the bike you’ve been on. I’d been a bit nervous but there were so many areas, even in those few laps, where it felt so much better.
So what’s different about the Yamaha?
The engine is so smooth and easy to understand. That was the biggest thing I felt straight away. It makes the bike feel really fun to ride. The Suzuki was quite difficult because you were always a bit behind on power, especially with torque off the corners, and always trying to play catchup in other areas, which made it even more difficult.
Jonny Rea spent years on a Honda before going to Kawasaki and blitzing the Championship. Are other racers held back like this?
Yeah, I would say so. Riding with these guys the last two years, I understand a lot more now about the level of riders and stuff. I think I rode without the results because I didn’t have the package. I’m definitely on that now, and I think I’ll make a big step. I don’t have to ride any better than I did last year; it’s just that this year we’re going to be in the mix.
So how many riders have the machinery and skill to mount a serious charge at the title?
There are so many fast guys, but I don’t think they are all on good enough bikes to challenge for the championship. You’ve got maybe six guys on good enough bikes, and I’d say the only bikes that are going to win the championship are the Kawasaki, Ducati or Yamaha. Other guys will win races and I think it’s going to be a lot closer this year than for the last four or five years. But it’ll be one of them three teams, in my opinion.
Are you content to be in WSB in 2016?
I’m happy where I’m at. I’ve got the right opportunity at the right time in my career, and the right amount of experience now to make the most of it. I hope in the future I could have an opportunity to be in MotoGP. But I understand that I need to win in WSB first. My goal is to just focus on that.
I’ve had two tough years where I’ve learned a lot about me and about racing in general. I think you always learn a lot more when you have those difficult years. I mean, last year, right up until the last race, we had issues. I still turned up to the last race feeling as good I ever had, both mentally and physically, and I gave it everything I had. If you can come through years like that still feeling motivated and strong, it’s going to make it slightly easier when you have got all the things in place around you to get the job done.
What’s the difference between you and your twin brother Sam on a motorcycle?
It’s difficult to say because we have a slightly different approach. We raced against each other when we were younger and then, because of different opportunities that came about, he stayed on a Supersport bike and I moved to Superbike, and we’ve not raced against each other since. Since then he’s won World Supersport and he’s won in GP, and he’s done a lot of stuff. I’d really, really like to ride with him and sort of see.
Nowadays, I have a bit more of a steady approach in terms of thinking about the bike a little bit more. I had to do that on a Superbike because there are more electronics. His approach is just to go as fast as he can every lap. That’s what I used to be like, and what I’ve learned not to be like. But I do love him for that, and it is something that I think will help him a lot, especially in Moto2.
The two Lowes brothers in MotoGP one day – can it happen?
It could, if we get the job done this year and next year. It’s down to hard work, really. I’m a massive believer in that. If we can both do some winning this year, it will help the cause.
Between you and your brother, who is better on a motocross bike?
Me! Obviously, I’m faster than him. Make sure you tell him that when you see him.
Have you ever met a rider you think is better than you?
Words Eric Johnson Photo Gold and Goose