Alex Lowes: New track surface ‘1.5 seconds faster than the past’

Alex Lowes says the new Phillip Island track surface is yielding faster lap times of around 1.5 seconds quicker than previous seasons.

Alex Lowes, Australian WorldSBK, 20 February
Alex Lowes, Australian WorldSBK, 20 February

After a new WorldSSP lap record was set on Monday, the WorldSBK lap record tumbled as Toprak Razgatlioglu topped the test.

Like Jerez and Portimao, Alex Lowes was the leading Kawasaki rider as he set a time of 1:29.211s to finish fifth fastest.

Speaking about the grip on offer, Lowes said: “The test was good. The new surface is really fast, so it feels like a different track to the one we used in the past.

“We worked really hard on trying to make the used tyres last and it is going to be interesting to see what the organisers do.

“For me, the tyres were OK, even after 18-19 laps. But for some people after six or seven laps, they are struggling. I was using the SC2 in the front, trying to make the bike work well over the longer distance.

“So, if we make a pitstop some of today’s work will not be relevant. The bike felt nice to ride around the track, and there is so much grip that every corner you have your elbow on the floor.

“I guess it is about 1.5 seconds per lap faster than the past, so it is hard to get your head around it.

“The lap times are so, so close between around 15 riders, if we have a shorter race then the guys with a lot of power and more top speed will not have to look after their tyres as much.

“We will wait and see. The guys in the team did a really good job. We had no issues and I think we did 90 laps, which is a good day’s work. I am now looking forward to race weekend.”

Team-mate Axel Bassani also finished in the top ten as he managed to close the gap between himself and Lowes.

Jerez and Portimao proved tough for the new Kawasaki rider, who replaced six-time world champion Jonathan Rea after spending three seasons at Motocorsa Ducati.

But like Lowes, Bassani showed good speed and was content with his performance.

“The test I think was good,” began Bassani. “We tried a lot of things and every time we made a little step forward.

Axel Bassani, Australian WorldSBK, 20 February
Axel Bassani, Australian WorldSBK, 20 February

“We started to be near the top five. It was not easy because now the level is incredible. Today, for two tenths or three tenths, I was tenth or 11th. Incredible, a crazy situation. But we did, I think, a really good job.

“At the end of the day we started to push to set some fast laps. I made a mistake in the first sector of my best lap, so I think it was possible to be higher up the order without that mistake.

“Looking to the race weekend, I think our pace over race distance is not bad. All the riders seem to have a problem with the tyres after ten or 12 laps, so we will see what happens.

“At the moment, for me, it is better to divide the long races in two, but we will see what they decide.”

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