Sam Lowes goes into this weekend’s first round of the 2019 Moto2 season brimming with confidence, with blistering pace in the final preseason test and topping the three-day outing at the Losail circuit. Once again ending the test not only fastest but clearly the most consistent, he’s once again acknowledged himself as one of the middleweight class favourites after a difficult 2018 season.
Setting down an important marker on Sunday, the final day of testing, Lowes set a lap time good enough for fifth on the combined standings on the final lap of his 22-lap race simulation. Able to go even faster on new tyres while many of his opponents are unable to even match him on used rubber, he says he’s going into the weekend knowing that he can win.
“You’ve got to be realistic and keep your feet on the floor, but that works both ways – if you’ve got a chance to win, then you’ve got to try and go for it too. There’ll be races where I don’t have the chance to win, but I do in Qatar because unless four or five people miraculously find half a second a lap I’m going to be in the fight to win. I can win. Mistakes can happen, but I’m crashing less, the rhythm is there and there’s no reason why I can’t win.
Going into the new season a completely different-looking rider, it seems like the planets have aligned for Lowes in 2019. Back with a team that he loves and working closely with chassis manufacturer Kalex (who rate his feedback highly), on a new Triumph engine that plays with his strengths and able to use his MotoGP experience to get a slight edge on setting up Moto2’s new electronics, it looks now like he’s got the package not only to win in Qatar but to be a title contender.
But while he starts the season stronger than he ever has, Lowes’ main takeaway from the Qatar test seems to be that he’s once again back to enjoying his riding.
“It could have gone one of two years this year, because last year was shit and people treated me like shit. We haven’t gone racing yet this year, but everyone in the paddock has done a lot of days of testing and we’ve all been together – and I feel like I’m strong. I’ve got good people around me, I’ve got a good bike, I’m fast, and I’m proud of myself for the way in which I’ve been able to get back to that point.
“Testing is testing, and a lot of people will be fast this weekend in Qatar – but I’ve worked really hard to get a good base setting on the bike, and we’re going to be fast at places where people haven’t done a load of testing. It’s going to be a close race, because they’re going to catch me up – but with the way we’re working and the confidence I have, we’re going to be in a good way on Sunday and all season.”