Moto2: Gearbox issues end Lowes’ charge

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Former Moto2 title contender Sam Lowes has faced an inauspicious return to the middleweight class after being forced out of his first race back on the Swiss Innovative Investors KTM with gearbox issues. Suffering from the opening lap of Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix, he looked to be finally making good progress in Sunday’s race when a problem with the bike left him hitting the deck and missing out on a comfortable top ten finish.

Fast all weekend in practice despite hindering himself in qualifying with a self-inflicted crash, it all went wrong for him in Sunday’s race. Despite the normally bulletproof Honda CBR600 powertrains provided to the teams by ExternPro, a combination of high temperatures and what is rumoured to be a possible cooling issue that all the KTM machines suffered from in Qatar seems to have done the damage for Lowes.

“Coming from 17th to ninth isn’t easy in Moto2 but I managed well, and I was having a nice battle with Marini. I was faster than him but he kept doing me on the straights, which is something we need to look at because we’ve done a lot of work on top speed but we struggled all weekend with it.

“I got a few clear laps and was able to run at a similar pace as the top four, and I have to be positive about that. I was quicker and quicker and might have got into the top six, and without making excuses, this one isn’t on me. Then I went into a corner in neutral and couldn’t get out of it again!”

But despite the disappointment of Sunday’s race for him, Lowes was quick to find the positives after the battle, looking at the bigger picture and keen to build back into his place in the series after a troubled year in MotoGP with Aprilia.

“But it’s a long year and it’s my first proper race in a year, and I might not have been where I wanted to be but I made some good passes and was going well. It was a tough track for KTM, and despite that I was doing a good job, so there’s plenty of positives for us. The team is good and the bike is good. They believe in me and it’s so nice to be working with them, and people can say whatever they want about you as long as you’ve got the support of your team.

“It’s still only my first year back in Moto2, and I might need a year to fight for the championship again, but that’s OK. And in the meantime, this year I can be close and I can fight for wins.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer