Sam Lowes has spoken out against Aprilia in light of a frustrating qualifying session at the Circuit of Catalunya, during which familiar technical issues prevented him from posting a competitive time, and rumours surrounding his future.

The Englishman described Saturday as "a bad day, the worst of the year" after machine troubles grounded him in the 15-minute Q1 shootout. Lowes barely had the chance to exercise the RS-GP's potential around the Montmel? track, posting just one lap and qualifying 21st in spite of showing decent pace in earlier sessions.

There were also underlying frustrations at rumours that have circulated around the MotoGP paddock, which have linked several other names to his seat for the 2018 season. "Those rumours are typical of what's wrong with the situation," he said.

For two weekends now Lowes has spoken of the need to improve communication in his side of the garage, and went on to state he needs some of those around him to have a greater understanding of his current issues, namely that he is two specs of engine behind team-mate Aleix Espargaro, who qualified fifth.

"I don't know," said Lowes when initially asked about the track condition. "In the garage it was nice... It was a bad day. Worst day of the year for me, not from myself, I felt quite good, did a good FP4, quite a good rhythm, 1m 47.0 on lap twelve of the tyre, which in the race can be not so bad, actually.

"But it was bad. A bad day. Same as Mugello, we had problems, Jerez I missed qualifying and today, this morning I had lots of problems and in qualifying I didn't even do a lap. I did a lap, but it was not working right. I'm frustrated. It's a tough time, tough time of the year, tough situation in the garage and some certain things going and to not even be on the track is a bit of a joke, really.

"I don't really know [the cause of the mechanical issues]. They don't know yet, about the problem for today. The team's doing a good job, Aleix did a good job, really good job today so well done to him. His bike must be working good, I wish I could ride his bike, because that's where we're at now.

"I never say anything. But there's a time that now it's not good enough, at all. I'm riding good, I'm doing a good job, I'm not crashing the bike, I'm doing solid, when we go testing I'm doing a good job.

"Yesterday, I was one second or 1.1s off. It's alright, on an Aprilia as a rookie, you're riding good. It's hard. When you're not on track, you can't improve. All I need is laps. Let me ride around, don't even change the bike."


Asked whether these recurring issues come as a surprise, considering he is part of a full factory team, Lowes continued: "The situation, honestly, at the minute, I'm not happy with it.

"The team's very high quality, the level of the team's very high quality, but at the minute I'm not happy. Not happy with the respect, the situation and the communication has really been bad.

"You hear things, obviously in the paddock you hear what's going on and I understand the situation and obviously I know exactly the situation. Honestly, for me, it's nearly unbelievable.

"It's nearly unbelievable, I lay in bed at night, and some of the things going on, I'm shocked and disappointed and I'm just thinking, 'fair enough'. And they don't understand... my results haven't been great, but as a rookie on this bike and the package I'm on all the time, being a little bit behind, they don't quite understand and that's very strange for me.

"In this paddock, you need people who understand other people and that's what I need at the minute, other people do understand. We'll see. I'm disappointed today, very disappointed."

Given the difference in equipment with his team-mate and reliability issues, Lowes was particularly annoyed at rumours in the Italian media linking names, including Andrea Iannone and Cal Crutchlow, to his seat for 2018.

The Englishman is in the first of a two-year MotoGP deal, but there are suggestions his contract has certain performance related clauses.

"If it carries on like this, I don't want to ride it anyway," he said. "Some things like that, that doesn't really bother me, because I know the situation, but those rumours are typical of what's wrong with the situation.

"They need to sort the problems out. It doesn't matter if you're Valentino Rossi, if you don't go out in qualifying you can't be on the f**king front row. Anyway, tomorrow will be quite good. I feel my pace, I'm riding quite well, I can keep my pace a bit longer, the last 10 laps are going to be really bad for everybody, so we're going to have to see how that is. I'm improving, I feel quite relaxed on the bike."

By Neil Morrison

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