Sam Lowes has hailed the feeling with his 2019 package as a "massive improvement" on what he experienced a year ago as he continued an excellent preseason by placing third on the first day of the overall timesheets at the first official Moto2 test of the year.

The Englishman feels Gresini’s ’19 racer, complete with Triumph’s 765cc triple cylinder engine, Ohlins suspension and Kalex chassis, allows him to use a more point-and-squirt riding style, and the lap times are already bearing this out.

The 28-year old claims it took just three laps into his first outing on the machine last November to reach the conclusion that the year ahead would be one of great promise. “I don’t feel on the limit. I feel, ‘OK, that was a moment.’ Last year I didn’t have moments; I had crashes.”

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Lowes’ fastest time on Wednesday – a 1m 41.286s – was just 0.14s off overall pace setter Luca Marini, but his speed, consistency, and ease with which he’s riding means he is confident for the year ahead.

Crash.net spoke to the three-time Grand Prix winner on Wednesday evening.

Crash.net:
How was the feeling today?

Sam Lowes:
“With my team because of my relationship with them, with Kalex because of the respect they give me is a massive point, and Ohlins have always respected me. So that is one step before I got on the bike. I jumped on the bike and did three laps and knew I was in for a lot better year, because the front tyre was on the track. That was my feeling. All last year I struggled with the front, struggled with the front. It’s hard then. For my riding style. I’m short. I don’t hang off like a lot of riders. It didn’t suit me and I never found it [the right feeling]. We did one test at Aragon and found it, and for whatever reason we couldn’t follow that direction after. You know why, but anyway…

“[With the Kalex] I just felt straight away ‘Oh, this feels better.’ OK, I need to try the engine, the electronics. 50 percent of my crashes are because of neutrals. Now I don’t even use the clutch because it’s a blipped. I’ve done six days on the bike now. I’ve been fast and just had one slip off, which was at turn six here. If you look at the whole grid today, I think there was a lot. That’s not too bad. Compared to what I normally do that’s a massive improvement. I don’t feel on the limit. I feel, ‘OK, that was a moment.’ Last year I didn’t have moments; I had crashes. In the Aprilia year it was the same. So I lost my confidence. But I’ve come back here, am in a good way and just feel good really. I just feel good."

Crash.net:
When you first got on the bike last November, did you try and ease yourself in?

Sam Lowes:
“It’s not really my style! I did a 1m 41s on my first day back on the bike. I felt alright! I’m just enjoying it. I had a hard time last year in my life with how people treated me. I’ve known you now a good few years. Results are results and everyone wants to win. But there’s a human side. Or there should be. You’re still a person and you’re still sound. If you go to the shop and you want something, you f**king pay for it. That [not getting paid] happened. I let that affect me a lot and I’ve grown up as a person because of these last two years. It’s taken me until this winter to put this into practice. I’ve got my daughter now and I feel a lot better.

“I’ve got more experience, and I feel I can use this experience. It’s not just, ‘They treated me shit.’ I’m not just saying it, but I felt it. The team have said I’m so much more relaxed in the garage. And that’s what it is. I do feel that. I don’t feel like I need to go out and top every session. I want to win. I want to try and win and fight at the front. I just want to be in the fight, which I haven’t been last year. That’s the first target. Then you go forward. I just feel better about it all, which is nice."

Crash.net:
Has the switch to Triumph’s engines required you to change your riding style?

Sam Lowes:
“A bit. You can ride it with lots of corner speed and make a lap time. You can ride it stop-start and it makes a lap time. That’s why the racing is going to be loads better this year because we all had to ride the bikes the same last year. Now there will be a bit more of a difference in the race because sometimes the tyres will wear. And you can ride it in different ways. That’s exactly what the class needed.

“It’s a mint time in Moto2. The level [in the past] was high, the rhythm was so high, but that don’t look good for the fans because it takes ten laps to make a second on someone. For the fans and for Moto2 it’s a better bike, more fun to ride, you can spin the bike, you can have a lot of moments on the throttle. It was not quite like Moto3, but with the Honda [engine] it was just flat out. It’s fun to ride. A lot more wheelie in certain points and it’s like a step up.

“In the end the level of Moto2 was so high because the chassis was so good compared to the engine. It wasn’t like we were going to be a second quicker everywhere. We’re not going to be faster everywhere because it’s the first year, but in three years these things will be rapid. It’s good. It suits me. I didn’t come from Moto3 so in places here – turns two, six, 13 – I lacked a bit of corner speed, but didn’t have the power to get out. You made the corner nice and you were flat out earlier, but you couldn’t take the benefit because there was no power. Here you can get it picked up and out and making lap times. That’s suited me. With that and the blipped, even if I had stayed in the same situation as last year.”

Crash.net:
Do you feel you are already in a good place with your base setting?

Sam Lowes:
“I’ll say yes. But we’ve got loads of parts to test. We had some new forks to try today. I said, ‘The front’s mint.’ But I tried them and said, ‘Yeah, they’re better.’ For me now the dynamic of the bike is more or less set. With the front, I’d say, with these forks, I’ll keep that direction. It’s also the way the development is going. The rear? We’ll work a little bit. We have a bit more to find with swingarm length. So that’s where we’ll work on tomorrow.

“Just there in the last two exits I tried a different clutch with more holdback. We could then use more electronics in higher gears to make it more free, but then in the middle of the slower corners I have a bit more holdback. That was a good improvement. But that’s something we’ll fix here and we’ll be done then. We’ve tried a bigger clutch. We’re in a very good way with the balance, but we’ve still got stuff to try. That’s the best thing.”

 

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