Sam Lowes: From working in a quarry to Grand Prix winner

Sam Lowes closed a ten-year chapter in grand prix racing at Valencia.
Sam Lowes, Moto2, Indonesian MotoGP
Sam Lowes, Moto2, Indonesian MotoGP

Making a leap of faith to join Moto2 as the reigning World Supersport champion in 2013, Lowes took the first of ten grand prix victories at COTA the following season and last at Jerez this year.

In between was an ill-fated 2017 MotoGP campaign with Aprilia, while a 2020 Moto2 title challenge - against current MotoGP stars Enea Bastianini, Luca Marini, Marco Bezzecchi and Jorge Martin - was cruelly blunted by a wrist injury at the penultimate round.

A circle will close in 2024 when Lowes, who had turned down the obvious step to WorldSBK back in 2014, finally joins twin brother Alex in the production bike championship.

“If somebody told me when I was 19 and working with my dad down the quarry that I'd be a Grand Prix winner, I’d have taken that!” Lowes said of his GP career choice.

“So when I won in Supersport and had the chance to come to Grand Prix, I’m happy I took the punt because it would have been easy for me to go to Superbike.

“I had the chance of a two-year Superbike deal with Crescent. On triple the money I got to come here. But I was 23 years old and wanted to try Grand Prix.

“I'm proud of what I've achieved. I wanted to do more. I think everyone wants to do more! But it paid off and now I get to go there [Superbike] and see if I can do it anyway!”

Sam Lowes, Moto2, Dutch MotoGP, 24 June
Sam Lowes, Moto2, Dutch MotoGP, 24 June

‘I’ve crashed too much, but you’ve got to be fast’

Lowes acknowledges his reputation for crashing - although 16 accidents this year was well below the 24 by Aron Canet - but feels some riders are too afraid of making mistakes.

“When you get here, you need to take some risks and make it happen,” he said. “I've crashed too much in my career. Fair enough. But the biggest thing is you’ve got to be fast.

“If you're fast, people keep you around.

“Because yeah, ‘Lowes crashes a lot’ but ‘when he doesn't crash, on his day he can win’.

“Apart from Marc and Pecco, everyone else in MotoGP now I've raced against [in Moto2] and beaten on my day. Not very often! That's why I'm here and they're there! But on my day, I was a match for them. That's why you keep getting a chance.

“Speed is the base of everything. It’s like Martin now. The title didn't pan out for him. But he's so fast, like half-a-second faster sometimes. So he’s always going to be alright.

“One day he’ll put it all together because that's the base.”

The Englishman’s speed took him to a record 20 Moto2 poles, while his ten victories puts him joint fifth on the all-time Moto2 win list alongside Pol Espargaro and Pedro Acosta.

But which were the most special?

“I would say maybe COTA [the first win], because I genuinely probably didn't even believe I could win a Grand Prix,” Lowes said. “I came across with Speed Up, everyone was saying ‘he’s not on a good bike’. So then to do it was nice!

“Then Aragon 2020, the second race, because we’d already done one weekend. Everyone's obviously on it at the second weekend and the lap times were fast. And I won by a long way.

“And Jerez this year. The previous year I’d been struggling, I had three months of – not hell – but my shoulder was so bad. Worse than I and most people thought. So to come back get a win - that one probably meant the most.

“Also, it was at the time of year where we were talking about going to Superbike and it allowed me to show my speed and get that opportunity.”

Sam Lowes, Dutch MotoGP
Sam Lowes, Dutch MotoGP

Aprilia MotoGP move ‘a strange one’

The most debated moment of Lowes’ grand prix career is the MotoGP move with Aprilia in 2017.

Lowes scored points on just two occasions with the RS-GP (team-mate Aleix Espargaro finished 15th in the standings) and was dropped from a planned second season.

“I think I could have done a lot better in that situation,” Lowes reflected.

“When I won World Supersport in 2013, I was not really even a professional rider [at that stage]. And by 2017, I was in MotoGP. I was fast enough. But it's about more than that in MotoGP.

“We always joke that I’m old but my racing age is young. I'd done nothing compared to a lot of them at that point. So it was maybe the wrong call, but it’s so easy to say that after.

“I don't regret it. It was a strange one, because I actually signed for Aprilia to go in 2016. And then we changed it, and that was all a bit weird. I did a year with Gresini in Moto2 instead, which was mega.

“At that point I had the option to get out [of the 2017 MotoGP deal] and I probably should have stayed longer in Moto2 and tried to win the title, and maybe gone to Marc VDS at that point.

“But I also could have not done very well and then never got the chance to go to MotoGP! I'm happy that I did. I can sleep well with that.

“I would have liked a second year on the Aprilia because, as bad as it was, it was a time when they weren’t doing amazing anyway. Scott [Redding] jumped on it [the next year] and arguably didn't do really any better than me.

“So just to keep me for a second year, like for everyone, you’re going to make a step aren’t you? And sometimes I wasn't that far.

“So I'd like to have seen a second year, because, like I said, I’ve raced a lot of the guys there now. I don’t think I’m a Marc, Pecco or Valentino but on a good bike I could have done alright.

“But then that’s what everyone in the paddock would say!”

Although switching championships, Lowes will remain with the Marc VDS team, his home for the past four seasons, during his debut year in the World Superbike championship on a Ducati Panigale.

Sam Lowes on WorldSBK debut
Sam Lowes on WorldSBK debut

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