It's back to the future for Sam Lowes next season, the Brit banking on a familiar Gresini, Kalex and Ohlins recipe as Moto2 faces its first major engine and electronic shake-up.

Lowes enjoyed his best Moto2 campaign to date with Gresini in 2016 - claiming two wins, six podiums and five poles. But as Aprilia MotoGP testing duties increased, Lowes' feels his focus was diluted by the different machines and he dropped out of the title fight.

The full-time MotoGP move then descended into a hostile nightmare during 2017, with Lowes soon feeling unwanted and unwelcome by senior Aprilia management.

A lack of results meant Aprilia replaced Lowes with Scott Redding after the first year of a two-year deal, with Lowes switching back to Moto2 on a KTM chassis at the CGBM team.

This season hasn't lived up to expectations, but Lowes was in-demand for 2019 as teams, chassis manufacturers and technical suppliers seek proven riders to steer development in the uncertain new era of 765cc Triumph engines and Magneti Marelli ECU.

For Lowes, the feeling was mutual, the former World Supersport champion believing close technical partnerships will be key to success next season, as he seeks to complete unfinished business in the Moto2 class.

But some eyebrows were raised when he chose to reunite with Gresini, given the unpleasant Aprilia experience.

Lowes explained that the all-Gresini Moto2 operation has little connection to the premier-class project and "even if I win every race next year I wouldn't ride there [Aprilia] again."'s Peter McLaren and Neil Morrison spoke to Lowes about his new deal and the big changes for Moto2 next season…

MotoGP bikes - what's the difference?

It's now official that you'll be back at Gresini in 2019…

Sam Lowes:

I'm really happy. I enjoyed my time at Gresini before, but I made the mistake of testing the MotoGP bike in the second half of that year, which I think made us struggle a little bit more in Moto2 towards the end of 2016.

But up until Silverstone we were really strong, even winning again at Aragon, round 14. So it's good news for me. This year, of course I wanted the results to be better, but I think people can still see that I can do it once we put it all together.

You had no problem going back to Gresini, given how the Aprilia situation ended?

Sam Lowes:

Gresini have been in the paddock a long time. Fausto is involved [with Aprilia] of course, but the MotoGP thing is definitely separate. When you ride the Gresini Moto3 or Moto2 bikes you don't have much to do with Aprilia.

Last time I was there I was a bit connected [with Aprilia] because I had a contract with them for MotoGP the following year, but now there's definitely nothing there and never will be again regardless. From their side, I guess, but definitely from mine.

Even if I win every race next year I wouldn't go and ride there. And they'd probably never have me back. I don't know, I've not spoken to any of [Aprilia] since.

But Fausto has always been good to me.

Honestly, when you're riding for a team and the results aren't there it's hard. It's hard for a rider, it's hard for the team, it's not great for the sponsors. So it's normal that there's a bit of friction, but it's like in any relationship. Sometimes when I've seen you guys after I've had a bad race, I'm pissed off and you guys might think 'Sam's a bit of a dick today'. It's just the sport that we're in.

But in all fairness to Fausto he was always supporting me [in the hard times] and when we started talking again about this year he was spot on. I've got a lot of respect for that. He's been in the paddock a long time, as a rider and team manager, and you don't stay that long if you don't act professionally. That's what I need.

I'll also be working with the same crew chief as 2016, who is the best I've ever worked with.

And you'll be on the Kalex chassis?

Sam Lowes:


With Ohlins suspension?

Sam Lowes:

Yes. Perfect. And I've had messages from both [Ohlins and Kalex] since signing, saying 'can't wait to work together again' because we had such a good relationship. And that's something that we don't have this year from the partners... I'll leave it at that!

And those partners will be especially important given all the technical changes in Moto2 next year…

Sam Lowes:

This year, the bike I had in Qatar and the bike I'll have in Valencia is going to be more-or-less the same. Next year, I believe, the bike we have in Qatar and the bike we'll have in Valencia are going to be very different. My opinion. Because lots of things will be developing.

Even in 2016 we were still developing stuff. But now, with the Honda engines and the way the bikes are, there is not much more to come. So everyone is on that level. And I think for that reason next year will be a bit more spread out and you'll need the teams and support to go with that.

I just think the teams that have a closer relationship with the technical partners will make a bigger difference next year.

Also next year there is more to the bikes; we've got a little bit of electronics for once, the engines will be different, the chassis will be new. So maybe the teams that can do a little bit with the aerodynamics for example… Now the aerodynamics are all the same. Because they've all been in the wind tunnel and anything that was different, and worked, has already been copied by the others.

I think next year you'll need - not just the budget - but the infrastructure, the people and the technical relationships.

You are one of the few Moto2 riders with experience of MotoGP electronics, how much will that help?

Sam Lowes:

Moto2 was hard for me without electronics, because I came from World Supersport where we still had everything. The Yamaha I rode to win the Supersport championship had the blipper [automatic rev on downshift], the traction control, everything… it had more than we'll have here next year.

So when I came to Moto2 it was a big change, having less electronics. So it'll actually be good for me and nice to have the electronics back and I'm lucky now to have had the electronics experience from MotoGP and from Supersport.

In Moto2 I've also ridden for Speed Up, Kalex, KTM, so I've got quite a lot of information and I need to use that to my advantage.

Do you think we'll see a lot of different winners in Moto2 next season?

Sam Lowes:

Not as many as 2010 because the bikes are not going to be so different compared with the change from two-stroke to four-stroke. But I do think you'll see a bigger difference than now, because some people will get it nailed straight away and some people will be playing catch-up.

Because electronics - in my opinion, from the ones I've worked with and there's no reason for these to be different - they can make your life so much easier when they are working good. But they can make your life harder when they not working. Sometimes you just want to say, 'turn it all off and let me ride it'.

Maybe in Moto2 there won't be so much, but even the blipper next year - if that's set-up wrong, you'll tip into the corner, it'll keep pushing you in and you can't stop.

What do you think you'll have next year in terms of the electronics?

Sam Lowes:

My understanding is that the Marelli ECU can do anything, so it'll come down to what they let us use. I don't know exactly yet, but I know it'll have a blipper because I've seen the 2019 bike on track when we were at Aragon and you can hear it.

So you won't need to use the clutch when downshifting, which is amazing for me. One of my biggest downfalls is when I use the clutch because of the way I backshift. It's the only place I really lose time, and that'll be taken out of it.

Traction control would only help if it's set-up right because you need a bit of spin to turn the bike. So if you try and use traction control too much in Moto2 you'd be hindering yourself. But in the wet it'd be lovely!

We had traction control at Honda with PTR in Supersport. It took us a long time to get it working and in the end it was mint, but at the start we were slower with it.



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