Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2013:
Without a doubt, the 2013 motorcycling season will be remembered for years to come. This season we have seen rookie Marc Marquez conquer MotoGP at his first attempt, Kawasaki return to the top step in World Superbikes after two decades with Tom Sykes and the popular Lowes twins make their indelible mark on the sport.
A year that saw both brothers mature from fast, yet occasionally error-prone contenders into fast, consistent and rounded championship winners, while Alex's emergence as a convincing BSB title rival came earlier than many may have anticipated, it was notable for being as well-planned as much as it was well-deserved.
Indeed, his eye-catching end to 2012 notwithstanding, Lowes may have been elevated into the factory Samsung Honda team for 2013, but alongside the likes of Shane Byrne, Josh Brookes and even team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari, he remained a relative outside bet in what was still only his third full season of Superbike racing.
Podiums from the opening rounds though represented a notable shift in approach from Lowes, the youngster using the 'Title Showdown' format to his advantage by notching up podium credits and gaining experience against riders he has barely raced alongside before. In short, Lowes was saving his best until last.
Indeed, though Lowes would hint at his title credentials with wins at Oulton Park and Snetterton, nine-time race winner Byrne remained very much the hot favourite for a second consecutive crown as the Title Showdown loomed.
That is, until Lowes took the next step in this methodical approach and unleashed a remarkable run of four consecutive race wins at Cadwell Park and Donington Park. It was a short, sharp shock for Lowes's rivals and one that would reveal the Honda rider as arguably a greater threat to Byrne than many had perhaps realised.
Such a turn of form meant Byrne was forced to formulate a response against an in-form rival as the critical three-round shootout got underway. Kicking off at Assen, of course 'that' accident between the two protagonists – which left Byrne barrelling out of the race - had the potential to immortalise the title fight, but the decision to exclude Lowes from his race win at least maintained a status quo, even if the man himself felt he was being punished for a racing incident.
Indeed, Lowes and Byrne had become known as 'frenemies' for their mutual respect for one another both on and off-track and their Assen clash aside, the pair indulged in some enthralling, yet clean bar-to-bar action in 2013. This was no more apparent in Silverstone when they departed on level-pegging.
With this in mind, it was fitting that their tussle would come down to a final race face-off in inclement weather and it is credit to Lowes that, in Shakey's back yard, it was he who would prevail by the slightest of margins in the trickiest of conditions.