Fresh from securing his best finish in MotoGP to date, Sam Lowes is aiming to put his Aprilia RS-GP back in the points at Phillip Island, and feels generating sufficient heat in the front tyre over the weekend will be key to his chances.

The weather can be fickle at the sea-side Australian venue, and with the race start pushed back to 4pm on Sunday afternoon, temperatures have fallen during the grand prix in recent years, a facet Lowes took into account as he flew south from Japan.

The Englishman suffered a crash when braking in a straight line during qualifying at Aragon. “No time to load it, just skidding across rather than gripping the track,” he said. Among this weekend’s aims is to adapt further to this aspect of the Michelin front.

“The weather obviously looks like it'll be cold and the thing I'm still struggling with a little bit is to get heat in the front tyre,” said Lowes. “That's something that we struggled with in Aragon, in the race it was a bit better but in qualifying we had crashes in a straight line.

“So I'm hoping we can get a lot of heat in the front tyre, no dramas and it's a track I love, I go fast at and I enjoy it. I've had a test here so it's one of the first times so far - apart from Misano - that I can come to and have a setting. So I think that will help me as well.

“I'm positive and looking forward to it. Last time I got points but it was wet, so now I want to get some more points in a dry race - depending on the weather obviously - and then go to Sepang and do the best we can. Sepang looks like it could be anything, it's probably going to rain at some point, but it should be hot so I'm looking forward to that one either way.

“This weekend I need to work on loading the front a bit if it's cold, because that's where I've been having problems. But apart from that I feel like it should be a good weekend."

Is that more difficult as there are only two heavy-braking zones on the Phillip Island track? “That's not so bad,” he said. “It's straight-line braking, like you see a lot into the Honda hairpin here where people crash in a straight line, I had that at Aragon. Strange.

“So hopefully we can find a way to get confidence there and the rest like here so we should be alright. But the tyres are quite a lot softer than Aragon here, because they knew it could be cold.

“I feel good here. I did a '30.2 here at the test. Quite fast. Cal last year was doing '29s in bad conditions, but it's not so far off. So I think it could be positive."

Asked to describe the type of fall he had at Aragon, Lowes said, “I touched the front brake a little bit and boom. Down. No time to load it, just skidding across rather than gripping the track. That's something we need to work on. I've lost a bit of confidence. I crashed like that at [the] Valencia [test] last year.”

On the race at Motegi he added, “Japan was quite good. It was one of the first times, if not the first, where we've had a full wet weekend. The race was a lot more wet than practice. I enjoyed it. I had a small problem at the end, I lost a position to [Katsuyuki] Nakasuga on the last lap, but really it was a solid ride. I rode well and it was nice to pass a lot of people.

“The spinning was only because there was so much water. There was a lot of aqua-planing. The last three or four laps. You could feel it spinning up when you hit the puddles. But it was OK, the same for everybody. The grip was okay. For me, it took a few laps to get the tyres and brakes up to temperature, but then it was alright.”


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