20 October 2014
MotoGP Australia: Moto2: Lowes feeling comfortable at the front
Sam Lowes feels he has made an important step towards battling at the front of a Moto2 race following a season's best fifth place at Phillip Island.
One swallow doesn't make a summer but Sam Lowes came away from Philip Island feeling that the Australian round of the Moto2 championship marked a turn-around in his fortunes that started with changes within his SpeedUp squad last month.
The Englishman fought with the leaders throughout the 25 lap race before eventually settling for fifth but saw plenty of positives having been within touching distance of a first rostrum finish.
“I didn't win and I've got to improve but that was a good, solid race and my lap times were good," said Lowes. "There's a big gap behind me but I was with the front guys so that's a good indication for next year. The team has worked great all weekend, and just like in Japan we got faster with each session. As a rider, we've all heard it, but 70 per cent is in the head and when you're happy and confident you can do a little bit more."
The race distilled into a battle for the lead with Marverick Vinales, Thomas Luthi, Esteve Rabat, Mika Kallio and Lowes all trading places throughout the race with Lowes admitting to feeling very confident on the bike and comfortable racing with the leaders.
"At the start I felt good and I could turn the bike really well and I was quite controlled on the brakes. As they were making mistakes I could release the brake and turn tight and I passed a few people by hooking underneath at Honda. It's nice to be in the group and battling with the boys because Luthi is coming off a mega ride last week and all race I was battling with him, Kallio, Rabat and Vinales. It's a big step forward and I learned so much by watching them and how they paced the race. It's strange to say it but the pace wasn't a problem and I was just figuring out the right position."
When asked what he felt he had learned from battling with the established front runners of the class, it was clear that their experience of how to deal with the full race distance and to pace themselves throughout so that they could have tyre life at the end of the race was key.
"I think that with the longer races and these Dunlop tyres you have to save a bit for the end of the race. I gave mine a bit of stick in the middle of the race and maybe that was a little bit unnecessary because when I was fourth in the group I was still spinning the tyre whereas maybe I could have been nicer to the tyre and use the slipstream.
"They saved a little bit more than what I had but I my second to last lap was strong. It's a little bit of race craft but it's hard to explain what you learn. You start to feel that you should be there and that it's not unusual to be there. You're riding with them and you're relaxed because the first time you're with them you're tense.
"What they do a lot more than me, and I've seen this all year, is that they can put the bike where they want it but I sort of know that at each corner I need to brake here, turn in here they can decide that on one lap they need to be tighter or wider. I'm a little bit one-liney at the minute."
Even though he has been able to race at the front in some races this season, Assen and Brno for example, this was the first time that Lowes felt that he was able to race within himself and fight comfortably with the leaders.
"It's the first time that I've been in the lead group and had their pace. Whereas before I've been thinking that I've to stay here until I can't, today I could think that I was there with them instead of having to do qualifying laps. In the end I feel a little bit short but it's nothing like in the past. I can't help but feel a little bit disappointed but that said you've got two guys that are fighting for the world championship, Luthi coming off a win and Vinales that's off to MotoGP.
"At the end I just didn't quite have the pace with the tyres and the fuel dropping. I'm a bit disappointed and I think that could have been over the line behind them but I couldn't have done much more. I'm disappointed but from where we've been it's a big step and we were close for most of the race."
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