Moto2: Sam Lowes crowned MCN Rider of the Year
The 2020 season was one of unprecedented racing. The closest season ever, multiple winners and high drama formed just part of the script in MotoGP, while Jonathan Rea bagged an incredible sixth title in WSB. The British Superbike championship was another nail-biting stunner, but over and above all of that it was Sam Lowes’ Moto2 heroics that captured the imagination of the British public to be voted MCN Rider of the Year.
The 30 year old encapsulated all the qualities the British public tend to warm to: being the underdog, to being being written off through to lion heart and that’s before taking into account his incredible season that saw him win three races and take the title down to the wire, despite breaking bones in his wrist and hand.
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In doing so he beat some big hitters, bagging more votes than his fellow MCN Rider of the Year contenders combined which included Joan Mir, Franco Morbidelli, Jonathan Rea and Josh Brookes.
Reflecting on the win on the eve of the 2021 season in Qatar, Lowes said: "This is mega, I’m honestly so happy, what great news to get before the start of the season. To beat these other guys knowing that it is a public vote really means something as I appreciate that some of the people that voted for me, could potentially be some of the same people that wrote me off before the start of the season. Then I’ve turned it around and they’ve thought ‘fair play to him’ and I like that. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but it’s good when people that can take it on the chin and change their mind. That’s what life is about and it means a lot."
While his brilliant on track performance speaks for itself, it was how he turned his career around in 2020 that won him the award. Essentially written off after two bad seasons in Moto2 following a disastrous MotoGP campaign with Aprilia, Lowes was seen as damaged goods, so when he got signed for the most successful team in Moto2 Marc VDS Racing; eye brows were more than raised.
"Coming back from MotoGP I had two terrible years and got a lot of stick and a lot of flack, but it was deservedly so because I wasn’t getting the results." said Lowes. "I’m not stupid, I know that you have to get results in this business."
But Team Boss Marc van der Straten had seen something in Lowes way back in 2016, so despite the lack of form honoured an offer that dated back four years to run Lowes in his proven title winning team.
"I know that on paper I wasn’t getting the results to warrant the ride so it was right what people were saying. But a racer sees things differently from other people. A racer always believes that given the right opportunity that they can do the job. Before I went to MotoGP I was on the podium and winning races in Moto2 and I was close to signing for the team. I’d finished fourth in the championship and I deserved that level of ride."
The eternal optimist, Lowes put the criticism to one side and started re-building his career in what is one of the most competitive classes in racing.
"As soon as I joined the team, no one judged me on whether I deserved the ride or not and that made a massive difference because I didn’t feel that I had to prove anything to them."
An injury robbed him of the chance to race at the opening round, which only fuelled the negative criticism, but from round two he was in the mix, finishing fourth two weekends running before his podium in Brno brought palpable relief.
A DNF in Austria blotted his copy book before re-grouping to take two more podiums before three consecutive race wins – the championship was on.
"It’s the best sport in the world when you’re winning, you feel like you could run home from the track – do anything. But when it’s bad it can be lonely and difficult.
"There were times when I didn’t know if I could get back to a Grand Prix podium, because a Grand Prix podium is a place not everyone gets to. And then to get three wins on the bounce was amazing.
"I know it’s only Moto2, but it’s still not bad! I believed I could do it, but when it doesn’t happen for a few years it’s hard….then when it did, wow it was a massive thing for my life. It was also nice to give a bit of a finger up to the people that said I didn’t deserve it! At the end of the day I’m a normal bloke just trying to do his best."
Now in his second year with the Marc VDS team it’s time to shine. Fit, happy and super relaxed after the latest round of positive testing he’s perfectly placed to improve on his third position in 2020 and fight for the crown in 2021. Which would make him a contender for MCN Rider of the Year once again – for an even better reason…
- 2010 British Supersport Champion
- 2013 World Supersport Champion
- 2017 MotoGP
- Races: 105
- Poles: 16
- Podiums: 18
- Wins: 6
- Best finish: 3rd 2020