Sam Lowes believes 2018 represents his best chance to win a world title in grand prix yet after recent outings in Spain confirmed his speed and outright pace aboard KTM's Moto2 chassis.

The Englishman admits the chance to avenge Aprilia’s decision to terminate his two-year MotoGP deal one season early has served as motivation going into the new year. “That’s massively how I feel,” he said last week. “Massively.”

But Lowes has approached the winter methodically, taking time to find an optimum feeling aboard KTM’s steel frame while adapting to the new working methods of the recently rebranded Swiss Innovative Investors squad.

Having initially struggled with the front end of the bike, Lowes found a solution at last week’s final preseason outing at Jerez. “[Now] I feel really good on the front,” he said. “I can brake and go in good.” The times followed, with the #22 leaving Andalusia with the fastest time and pace that was a match for anyone.

The secret, he said, was not doing too much, too soon. Lowes has “chosen to reinvent myself a little bit,” focusing on smoothing out his riding style and remaining consistent, rather than attempting to prove a point from the off.

“I’m proud of the way I’ve reacted,” Lowes told, referencing his comeback from a chastening experience with Aprilia. “But I’ve done it in a way where I’ve come back and I’ve chosen to reinvent myself a little bit, change my approach, change my attitude, change my riding style, rather than just coming back and thinking, ‘F**k, I need to prove it to everyone, and pushing hard every day.’

“So I’m proud of that because that’s what I would have done in the past, whereas now the way I’ve built up and done it and worked on the bike I feel like I’ve put the blocks in a good way to really prove them wrong. That will be nice.”

While not part of KTM’s ‘official’ Moto2 squad, Lowes has felt the full force of Mattighofen’s backing in the winter months, carrying out a considerable testing programme of new parts and changes for the Austria factory.

That development work and his considerable focus on race pace has resulted in the 27-year old feeling confident in a package that will be suited to most tracks. “I feel like the work we’ve done this winter will let me be fast everywhere, so we’ll see,” he said.

The Swiss Innovative Investors team is essentially the same squad that carried Thomas Luthi to two consecutive title challenges in the intermediate class in 2016 and ’17. Having fallen foul of Aprilia’s cold shoulder through most of last year, Lowes has spoken of the “great attitude” that exists in his current garage, with young team-mate Iker Lecuona’s recent speed proof of that.

“The team has won a lot of races,” Lowes said. “They’ve got a great attitude. They are all quite a young age. They’re fully motivated. Sometimes last year, [I would ask someone in the team] ‘How is it?’ ‘S**t.’ ‘How was the travel?’ ‘S**t.’ ‘How was the hotel?’ ‘S**t.’ Do you know what I mean?

“But these guys are like, “Great! The first race is next week!” You know what I’m like. I’m quite like that anyway. Then when people are not like that you think, f**king hell. So it’s just the whole ambiance is good. I can see why they’ve done good in the past and they’ve got good results. My team-mate’s doing good, which is also important.”

And what of his rivals for 2018? “For me [Francesco] Bagnaia is the main guy. He’ll be there and he’ll be good. He’ll be in a good way, but I don’t know. I just feel like Bagnaia will be stronger. I think the two KTMs [Oliveira and Brad Binder] will be strong. Obviously I’ve got the same bike as them, so you feel confident in that situation.

“VDS is a good team. Mir will be strong mid-way through the year for sure. [Alex] Marquez, Bagnaia, [Luca] Marini could be good. [Hector] Barbera and [Lorenzo] Baldassarri will be strong. [Xavi] Vierge will be strong. I could stand here and name the whole grid. I think a lot of guys some weekends will be really fast and some weekends not.

“Everyone on the grid – OK, Bagnaia, I’ve not raced against - but the other guys I’ve beaten them all before so there’s no reason why I can’t now. I feel good. I feel like I’m in a lot better position than I’ve been in the past.

“I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I’ve matured a lot, which is what you need to fight for a championship. This is my best chance since coming to this paddock four years ago. This is my best chance to win a world championship. I’ve got to go for it.”



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