Results haven’t been going his way but Sam Lowes remains resolute and feels he and his Swiss Innovative Investors Team are capable of scoring a podium finish in the final five Moto2 races of 2018.
The 28-year old joked he wanted to “jump off a cliff” after a false neutral put paid to his hopes of a strong finish at Aragon, a race weekend during which transmission issues had not been a problem.
But, having rejoined the track in 30th after an excursion on lap five, Lowes set about picking off the riders ahead. Indeed his pace in the race’s final third was on a par with Marcel Schrotter and Joan Mir, both of whom finished in the top six.
Several results haven’t made clear Lowes’ potential at recent rounds. At Brno, for instance, he qualified a lowly 22nd but showed the speed of the leaders in the closing laps. There was definite podium potential at Silverstone, only for the race to get rained off.
These moments, coupled with his speed in the race’s final third at Aragon, which have led him to believe a reversal in fortunes is incoming, and a strong result is not far away.
“I’m not buying any lottery tickets soon,” Lowes quipped in the wake of the race at Aragon. “It’s just not my year. I hit a few false neutrals. Maybe it was me in the race, getting in the battle. My pace was good. With three laps to go I did a 1m 54.3 and there were only two people faster on track.
“Where I am at the minute, I’ve just got to take the positives. It’s not happening. But it can happen. I’ve just got to keep going, keep putting my head down, working hard and get that result before the end of the year. If you put all the little bits together we’re not far off.
“I want to shoot myself in the face but I’m better off looking at the little things. Since I came back on the track, when I lost seven seconds, I overtook ten people. Actually my last eight laps were real strong.
“I’ve just got to stay focussed. It’s not a lost cause. I know I’ve got a good ride for next year. The things are all there. We’ve just got to get that result.
All year Lowes – and, indeed, all of KTM’s Moto2 riders – have struggled in qualifying, due to the chassis’ inability to extract the maximum from a new rear tyre.
Considering there is also a short window at the beginning of qualifying, when a layer of MotoGP’s Michelin rubber aids grip, adds to his complexities on a Saturday afternoon.
“Honestly I was 0.6s up on my best lap,” Lowes said of his qualifying efforts at Aragon. “I came onto the back straight and nearly high-sided. That was the window, in the first three laps. Then I went back out and did my best lap on the other tyre which I couldn’t even use all weekend. We just couldn’t make it happen.
“I spoke to Miguel [Oliveira] last night. We were saying how you put in a new tyre and you just can’t make it. Brad [Binder] did an amazing lap and an amazing race today, but we need to understand how to make the new tyre work. Qualifying is so tight. Then when you’re behind, you have problems.
“We are having issues with top speed; I’m not sure whether it’s the aerodynamics or what. I’m not heavy so… That will be important in Thailand.”
But, just a week after the birth of Kathryn, his first daughter, Lowes refused to be overly downbeat.
“We’ve got a result in us,” he said. “As a team, we’ve got a podium in us. That’s what we need to do, to get it out there. Where we are not, that wouldn’t make the season a good one, but it’d be nice for everyone. It’s been a tough time.
“The team’s coming together and we’ll keep plugging away. Today it was a mistake but it was in gear when I went in and then came out. So it was a strange one. Then you’re out wide and lose all that time.
“We’ve got to take that second part of the race, when we had really good pace – top seven, top six pace – and take it to the next one. At the minute, we just need to get that result. There’s no championship to go for so let’s try and take the positives and go to the next one.”