Alex Lowes has spelt out the goals during his first stint as a MotoGP rider, with learning, enjoying the experience, and getting as close as possible to new team-mate Pol Espargaro chief among them.
Standing in for the injured Bradley Smith for the Tech 3 Yamaha squad Silverstone and Misano, Lowes feels the younger Espargaro brother, whom he partnered in Yamaha's second consecutive Suzuka 8 Hour triumph in July, is a sound barometer to measure his progress against.
“By the end of Misano I want to be as close to Pol as possible. At Suzuka we did a similar pace. I don't expect to challenge for the podium. If I can be smart, I have a fantastic team around me and I can learn a lot from them.
“I hope by the end of the second weekend I can be doing a good job. That's a realistic goal. If you're in a world championship you can ride fast. But it's difficult trying to learn and adapt as quick as possible.
“That's my target – not to get annoyed at being slow at the start, learn from everyone and try and improve. I'm pretty confident in my speed. I know I can ride fast – definitely faster than Sam and he's going alright on a GP bike!
“I'll be alright. Something that I'm thinking about that I don't every weekend is I want to try and enjoy it because it wasn't long ago that I was racing in British Superbike. I'm happy in World Superbike. I didn't think I'd ever be racing in MotoGP. For myself I need to try and enjoy it and I'll do the best I can. It's quite simple.”
Lowes goes into the weekend having experienced Yamaha's M1 MotoGP machine for just twelve laps during the post-race test at Brno.
While the bike's 'DNA is quite similar' to the World Superbike R1, on which he normally competes, Lowes feels he has it all to learn, as his initial laps were not enough to allow him to understand the M1's limits.
“If I'm honest the laps I did in Brno, there were so few laps that I didn't understand a lot, really. I had a few laps at the end of the test. Back then I thought that may have been my only opportunity on a MotoGP bike. I just tried to enjoy it. If I knew I was going to do this race I would have gone out with a different attitude that day. I didn't but it was good fun.
“The speed of the bike is a big difference, more than I thought. You come down the straight. I don't mind admitting it, the first straight I might have shut off quite a bit earlier. It's a good job no one was watching that!
“I suppose the actual DNA of the R1 is quite similar to the M1, the turning, the position and things like that. It doesn't feel like a massive difference. Just the brakes and the tyres. The engine is faster, it turns better, The brakes are better. Everything is just a little better. I just need to get my head around that, but we'll know more tomorrow and see what happens.”
“I like this track. I've always gone quite well here and it's a track that I enjoy. It's going to be really interesting for me because I did a few laps on the bike last week but there are so many things that I need to learn. The MotoGP bike is quite different to the Superbike.
“It's not normal that you turn up to a grand prix with just ten or twelve laps on a bike. I don't know if anyone else has turned up with that little experience before. It's a difficult one because from the outside you don't know if people understand the level. I'm looking forward to it. I felt quite good the few laps I got on the bike.”