Sam Lowes flies to Qatar this week with a point to prove. Returning to the Moto2 class in 2018 after a troubled rookie MotoGP campaign with Aprilia, the Englishman is eager to remind the paddock of his talents while beginning his fight for a second world title.

Recent evidence suggests he has the tools at his disposal to go all the way. Riding for the rebranded Swiss Innovative Investors team on a KTM chassis, Lowes came away from a recent three-day outing at Jerez with the fastest time, and a race pace that only Francesco Bagnaia and Alex Marquez could match.

It was in a rainy Andalusia where Crash.net found a fully motivated Lowes, who spoke of his adaption to the KTM chassis, testing for the Austrian factory over the winter months, his hopes for the year ahead, and whether his experience in MotoGP has fuelled his off-season motivation.

Crash.net:
What were the first impressions of this bike when you got on it last year? Did you immediately feel comfortable?

Sam Lowes:
Yeah, I felt quite comfortable. I obviously struggled a lot last year with the front feeling in the end. So it took me a while to even find it on this bike, even into this year. We had to find a way that suited me, and we have found it now. Releasing the brake, it just felt a little bit high. We didn’t have any problem, but it just felt like it could have. And then this test we’ve made a big step with that and I feel really good on the front. I can brake and go in good. I feel like I’m in a good way. I feel like the bike is my bike. At the end of last year when I first got on it, I felt good. It was great from the start, but it didn’t feel like my bike. My first run ever back on it I did a 1m 43s. It was all right. But it did take last year and a bit of this year to get that feeling back. At Valencia last week, I’ve got that, and then here we continued it. So it was nice. Also, KTM has to test so much stuff because I had the Speed Up and Kalex experience. They put a lot on me this winter, compared to my teammate who didn’t have anything. I had a lot, which is good, no problem, but it just means that’s giving me a lot of information which I’ll need sometimes this year.

Crash.net:
You must appreciate that KTM values your feedback.

Sam Lowes:
Even when I signed the end of last year, the people from KTM and the team, they’ve been so nice to me. Now I’ve come back in, it’s continued and I like that. They respect me. That’s all you ask, especially if you didn’t often get that. It does make you feel good to walk in the garage, you feel nice and as you can see, I feel in a good way.

Crash.net:
The team has a new name and a new chassis, but this is essentially Thomas Luthi’s team from the past few years…

Sam Lowes:
Obviously his crew chief [Gilles Bigot] has gone with him and we’ve got new people, mechanics and stuff. The team has won a lot of races. 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?’ ‘Shit.’ ‘How was the travel?’ ‘Shit.’ ‘How was the hotel?’ ‘Shit.’ Do you know what I mean? But the guys here 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.' 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 [Iker Lecuona] is doing good, which is also important.

Crash.net:
Are the changes you're making in line with what the ‘official’ KTM team is doing?

Sam Lowes:
I don’t know. At the minute, we’ve given a lot of information and we don’t have any back, so I don’t really know where they are with anything. We have so much stuff. We have full support. Anything I want I can have. So it doesn’t really matter where they are. I think we’ve gone through the motions this winter and we’ve testing everything so we know what we’ve got and we know what we can improve.

Crash.net:
How are you finding working with the tubular steel chassis?

Sam Lowes:
The changes to the rear of the bike feel quite normal, but in the front I feel a lot. A small change can give me a lot of feedback. That’s why we’ve sort of tested so much stuff. That’s why it took us the time to get where we are, but now we’re there. We’re in a good way. Whereas the rear feels like a normal bike. It could be the same. But the front, the way it works, the change, you can understand a lot more.

Crash.net:
You were known for backing it in when you were last in Moto2. After your experience in MotoGP, have you changed your riding style?

Sam Lowes:
I’ve changed my riding style a lot to be a lot more smooth, but I back in a lot still. But I’ll try and be a bit smooth. When a guy from the team goes out and watches and he’s saying he expected me to look a lot different. He says, ‘You look like you’re not even pushing it.’ I’m still sliding it a lot but that’s Moto2, isn’t it? Especially the tyres and everything else. This bike is so good on tyres. Like yesterday, I did a 1m 41.9s on lap 21 on the tyre. That was the best lap. I did a 41.8s on a new one, but that would have still been first. I might be sliding them, but it’s obviously working, so it’s good.

Crash.net:
Franco Morbidelli and Thomas Luthi have left for MotoGP, but this year's Moto2 field is strong. Who are you looking at as your principle challengers?

Sam Lowes:
For me [Francesco] Bagnaia is the main guy. [Alex] Marquez, I don't know. He’ll be there and he’ll be good. He’ll be in a good way, but 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. 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. But I feel like the work we’ve done this winter will let me be fast everywhere, so we’ll see.

Crash.net:
In your last season in Moto2, your plan was to be consistent, limit the crashes and pick up podiums where you could. Is it the same this year?

Sam Lowes:
For me, the problem with that year was that until Silverstone it was all going good. I was twelve points behind Zarco going into Silverstone. He knocked me off and then I rode like an idiot for the rest of the season, apart from Aragon, where I won. I think after five races I was leading the championship. 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.

Crash.net:
Is there a feeling that you’ve got a point to prove after what happened last year?

Sam Lowes:
Yeah and I’m proud of the way I’ve reacted because that’s massively how I feel. Massively. 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 myself up, 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.

Crash.net:
So it’s just a sign of added maturity and experience I guess?

Sam Lowes:
Yeah, exactly that which you can’t buy, can you? I learned a lot last year, especially off the track. So it’s been good.

Comments

Loading Comments...