Sam Lowes was lost for words when trying to understand the origin of the chronic chatter that seriously afflicted his Malaysian Moto2 race and saw him swiftly fall down and outside the top ten.
Entering his penultimate race weekend as a Speed Up rider ahead of his move to the Gresini outfit in 2016, Lowes had shown well through free practice. Indeed he felt his eighth place qualifying spot would have been higher had the session not been curtailed by a rain shower.
Confident of challenging the podium places, Lowes was fighting in and around the top six until a vibration that was present from the start quickly began to worsen, until he was lapping some four to five seconds off his normal pace.
“I had really bad chatter and I kept nearly crashing,” explained the 25-year old after the race. “I was really struggling. I started having vibration on the straight and in the end the tyres were really bad worn. I've not had chatter all weekend. On the left side I was getting it really bad. We looked on the data and it was incredible."
Lowes eventually slipped to 13th overall to collect three world championship points but maintained that, as the title is out of reach, avoiding a big crash was his first priority.
“I got a good start. From there it was just spinning everywhere. It can't be the setting [that caused it]. The track was a lot hotter, which we know affects us in a bad way. But it wasn't that much hotter. I really don't know. In the end I was just slow, wasn't I? From the start I pushed but I saw I was just getting slower and slower. I was miles off.
“After the problems we had in Phillip Island, and we didn't have it all weekend. It was there from the start and when it started getting worse and worse, I was nowhere anyway, I was going down from sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth. For me it was the same. We're not going to win the championship. I didn't want to have a big crash. I'm stuck for an answer at the minute. I don't want to say it was a bad tyre. The track temperature was hotter, but only by five or six degrees.”
Chatter issues had hindered Lowes throughout his first visit to the Sepang track in 2014, a weekend that was prematurely curtailed by a crash five laps from the chequered flag. Those issues weren't similar to those he encountered a year later however.
“Last year we had it in all the corners. It was a nightmare. If it had been both sides we could have maybe blamed the settings. Because of it I was so tense on the bike. I was tired. Even in the first two or three laps, when I should have been on it, they were pulling away from me. I just had no pace.”
Johann Zarco's last-lap manoeuvre robbed Thomas Luthi of five points, meaning Lowes' advantage over the Swiss rider in the series stands at twelve points.
The 2013 World Supersport world champion insisted maintaining fourth overall in the series isn't keeping him up at night, as he simply intends to do “a good job” in his final race for the Speed Up team at the final race of the year.
“I'm not looking at the championship too much. I don't know what the lead over Luthi is but I'll try to do a good job in Valencia and we'll see what happens.”