EXCLUSIVE: Teams ‘judge too fast’, Vinales ‘one of the best’ - Sam Lowes

Aprilia’s rise from MotoGP strugglers to title contenders, team continuity being integral to success and the talent of Maverick Vinales - Sam Lowes shares his thoughts on his former team.
Sam Lowes, Kalex Mandalika Moto2
Sam Lowes, Kalex Mandalika Moto2

Aprilia are currently enjoying their greatest season in MotoGP, a year that could see Aleix Espargaro become world champion at the end of it. 

For that to happen the Spaniard will need to continue delivering the type of performances that saw him dominate in Argentina, claim four podiums in succession and complete a brilliant fightback from 15th to fourth after being crashed into by Fabio Quartararo in Assen. 

While 2021 was also a very good season for Aprilia and one that propelled them into becoming a greater threat in 2022, the journey to get to this point has been anything but easy.

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Just ask current Moto2 rider Sam Lowes who was given just one season by the team to prove himself in MotoGP, on a bike that was woefully uncompetitive at the time (2017). 

That’s exactly what we did as Lowes had nothing but positive things to say about his former team: "Yeah I’m not unhappy at all [at their success]. I definitely don’t begrudge anyone doing well, improving and getting good results,” Lowes told Crash.net. 

"I know this lifestyle and it’s hard for us all. For Aleix and the team; I know we had a difficult time in 2017 and at the time, myself, the package and the team were not in the position to get the results that they wanted and we didn’t. That’s how it was. 

"This sport is a results driven sport and when you’re not getting those, then that’s how it goes. It’s good to see him [Espargaro] doing well. 

"I think what you can learn from Aleix last year and this year is not always changing the people or too many things. Now with a lot of teams, if the rider doesn’t perform in the first few races then they’re out. It’s somebody else, somebody else, somebody else. 

"Now in MotoGP with one second between everybody, you need to get on the bike and figure it out fast. I think continuity with the same people and riders is showing. 

"I think they’re doing great and the bike looks very well-rounded. Aleix has always been a hard worker and is doing a fantastic job this year."

After three seasons in the Intermediate class, Lowes then signed for Aprilia alongside Espargaro who has been with the team ever since it returned as a full factory outfit in 2017. 

Despite both riders struggling, it quickly became apparent that a move back to Moto2 was on the cards for Lowes, even though he had completed just a few races in MotoGP. 

MotoGP teams ‘judge too quickly, it’s wrong in my opinion’ - Lowes

EXCLUSIVE: Teams ‘judge too fast’, Vinales ‘one of the best’ - Sam Lowes

One of the surprises from earlier in the season was that Aprilia decided to keep Vinales. 

However, it’s a decision that can’t be argued as Vinales has really started to show his and the RS-GP22 machine’s full potential.

The Spaniard, who secured a first podium with the team in Assen, could also have done the same in Sachsenring had he not suffered a ride-height device issue. 

But while Aprilia stuck with Vinales along with re-signing Espargaro, other teams have either chosen not to give their current riders another opportunity, or are rumoured to not be doing so. 

One of those is Tech 3 KTM who looks set to move on from at least one of Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez - the latter appears to be more likely to leave the team. 

But as Lowes rightfully pointed out, both Gardner and Fernandez were incredible in Moto2 last season, often battling it out for wins on their own which is why Lowes believes teams need to stick with riders for at least two years, the sort of time he was not given. 

"Again, whether it is right or wrong - wrongly in my opinion they judge too quickly," continued Lowes. "Like the two Tech 3 KTM riders who were fantastic last year, riding great and were a match for anyone on their day. 

"Now, it looks like one of them is going to lose their ride and talk like that is going on. It’s not correct in my opinion because you have other guys who jumped up on satellite Ducatis and are fighting to win races nearly, or at least for the podium and pole positions that last year were nowhere near them on equal machinery. 

"In Moto2 we’re all on the same [bikes]. I think teams should pick a rider and stick with the rider for two seasons to give them the chance to evolve and figure it out. 

"I think teams that go with that attitude a bit more will do better. With Vinales, me, you, everyone knows that on his day Vinales is one of the best riders in the world. 

Maverick Vinales, Dutch MotoGP race, 26 June
Maverick Vinales, Dutch MotoGP race, 26 June

"You can’t say otherwise and he has the CV to prove that. Of course, he’s had some issues, some bad days and fell out with some people but racing is tough. Bad days are what makes it even tougher. 

"He’s obviously got high potential and they can see that. They can see in the data how he’s riding, what his comments are. I was surprised [they retained him] but for that team in the years to come that will be a good thing."

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