After Aprilia's admission that they are talking to other riders for 2018, Sam Lowes arrived in Assen determined to keep his head down and prove he deserves to be in MotoGP.

In Barcelona, Aprilia boss Romano Albesiano said that the rookie needed to show 'improvement quite soon' and that they were making 'preparations' in case that did not happen.

Lowes has scored two-points in his opening seven premier-class races, compared with 17 for experienced team-mate Aleix Espargaro.

"It was a difficult weekend in Barcelona to hear some things and understand the situation," admitted Lowes. "But I know what my contract says [for 2018]. I know my ride or whatever is no problem. But racing is different and if other people become available..."

On Thursday at Assen, Danilo Petrucci and Alvaro Bautista added their names to the list of riders to have held discussions with Aprilia.

"It is what it is," continued Lowes. "I feel good. I feel like I'm improving all the time and feel like I'm nearly in a very good situation. So I'll just keep working hard. Keep my head down.

"I've been home, I've chilled out, I've trained. I've rode bikes. I did a pit bike race at Jurby. On Monday it was just me in a van with my bike and I was saying to myself, 'you know what? It's f**king amazing riding bikes!'

"I believe in myself 110% and that I deserve to be in MotoGP. I've worked very, very hard to get here. I'm not just going to roll over... There's potential in the garage, potential in myself.

"I'm not worried about next year at all. The situation is what it is. If I can show my potential and something changes [for 2018] even after that, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

"I know that the right thing is that I'm still here next year and if it isn't... I respect anything, but I've got no other reason to think differently at this moment."

Have Aprilia been specific about what they are expecting from you?

"We've not had that conversation. We've not had many conversations. I'll do my best. Keep working and like I said, without trying to sound big-headed, I believe in myself. I've worked hard. I've been in lots of different situations and I believe I deserve to be here. I've won races in Moto2 and other classes and feel I know what I can do and in the end I'll be able to show that."

In terms of his own targets, Lowes said: "I think I can be, or need to be, within one-second of the top, getting closer and a consistent pace. I think this weekend, maybe risking a bit more - I've not been crashing at all in the last three race weekends, so I can push a bit more - I can make a good step and be in a solid position.

"For me the situation is not quite what it seems. I'm positive and I feel I'm nearly in a position where I can ride the bike well and show what I can do. If I do that then the rest will take care of itself, good or bad. I can't control some things.

"Obviously I need to make steps, need to improve... for me this [Assen] can be a good weekend. In the last races the results maybe haven't been perfect, but the gap's been getting closer and I've been riding better. I don't feel far away so hopefully I can show that this weekend.

"Coming from Moto2, you really look forward to Assen, because it's fast and flowing. The biggest difference between Moto2 and MotoGP is the slower corners; getting thing stopped and going again. We don't really have that too much here and it's not really a horsepower track."

Lowes has received support from team-mate Aleix Espargaro, who said the Englishman deserves to be given more time.

"Aleix is a good guy, he's been around a long time. He's had good bikes, bad bikes. He's had good situations, bad situations. He knows how difficult it is. I respect him as a rider anyway, but also for what he said. All my focus is on improving and getting results, but fair play to him because he doesn't have to say anything. So it was nice.

"MotoGP is very, very difficult. Even for the teams that have been here a long time and bikes that have been at the front for a long time. So to come on something that is very new, it's difficult. For any rookie to jump on this bike is complicated. It's all about expectations and being realistic: From myself, from their side, from everyone's side. "

There has been some confusion over whether Lowes has the same specification of engine as Espargaro. The former World Supersport champion had said he was two steps behind, but Albesiano then stated it was the same.

"It's close. We're the same, but we're not the same!" Lowes smiled.

"It's a matter of reliability and timescale, parts and other things," he said of any machinery differences with his team-mate. "I respect the situation of the team. I'm not an idiot. I understand that it's hard to be in MotoGP and have the best stuff all the time. It's hard to bring something and it to be 100% reliable straight away because we are trying to improve all the time.

"So we'll just keep working. Whenever we're doing the tests I'm working hard, testing everything that I'm asked and doing all the laps.

"The Barcelona test was good. I tried four swingarms in the afternoon! Now I'm at the stage where whenever I try something I can give good feedback and also it gives me some more information about the bike. And that's important. That's helping me to understand more and more all the time.

"Because last year in Moto2 I tested a lot for Kalex, a lot for Ohlins and I feel now - although I'm missing that last second - I can give good feedback and really help the direction in a better way."

Will any of the parts from the Barcelona test be available this weekend?

"Here I've got the same as I had in the race in Barcelona, but more on account of the nature of this track. There's something we tried that was a bit softer in Catalunya that I'll probably use in Sachsenring, given that you are on the side of the tyre all the time. But here it's less effective.

"I also tried the a fairing with slightly different aerodynamics and there was a little bit of an advantage in top speed. I'm going to stick with this [special] fairing all season, we're going to try and work on this to develop.

"The top speed now is quite okay, maybe it does hinder it a little bit but we improve in other areas. In the short straights my top speed will be faster because I can get out of the corner better. But in longer straights, at the end, it's a little bit worse.

"I'm 100% going to stay with what I've got, or an evolution of what I've got, throughout the year. I've used it at enough different tracks now to be happy with it and I think for us as Aprilia we believe it's a good thing to do and I'm happy to work with it. It's already at a similar level to the other one and it's only going to get better."

By Peter McLaren

Want more? CLICK HERE for the MotoGP Homepage...



Loading Comments...