CLICK HERE to read our full interview with Alex Lowes

Such were his first impressions with Yamaha's new R1, Alex Lowes is confident that the machine can win races in its first year in the World Superbike class.

Coming into his third year at world championship level, the 2013 British Superbike champion will continue with the Crescent Racing outfit, which has ended its twenty-year relationship with Suzuki in favour of factory-supported Yamaha machinery.

From his experiences testing in Spain at the close of 2015, Lowes admits that a championship challenge in the first year would be a big ask, but his feelings around Aragon and Jerez suggested the R1 has massive potential.

"I know I can be as fast as them," said Lowes at Yamaha Europe's team launch in Barcelona. "I know I'm as fit as them. There's nothing else to it. Have we got the package to win the championship in our first year? I think it would be a massive, massive task. I don't know about that.

"Is the Yamaha good enough to win races? Yes. Is it going to be good enough at Phillip Island? I don't know, because we haven't been at that track yet. I expect and I would be very, very sad if we didn't win some races this year. Simple as that."

Lowes' new team-mate Sylvain Guintoli was similarly impressed, comparing the machine to Yamaha's MotoGP M1, which he raced in 2007, giving weight to the Englishman's remarks.

Neither rider fitted transponders in a post-season World Superbike test at Jerez, but the unofficial times confirmed Lowes' feelings, ones that he claims he has never experienced before on a racing motorcycle.

"In terms of it being ready to win world championships we still have a little bit of work to do, which is normal. We need to wait and see. My first impressions are really good. I love the bike. I've never had the same sort of feelings riding the bike as I've had riding this one. I'm hoping I can show what I can do and also show that I've matured a lot in the last two years when things haven't gone to plan. Let's see what happens."

Although his winter break was blighted by an injury picked up in a fast spill at the close of the first day in Jerez, recovery is going well and Lowes was adamant that he will arrive in Australia for the season opener in February 100 percent fit.

Before flying to Phillip Island, the team will conduct a two-day test in Portim?o and Jerez, to test "a list of things that are arriving." Fine-tuning the machine's electronics will be one of the top priorities.

"I'll be 100 percent in Phillip Island. In terms of testing it might be difficult," continued the 25-year old. "The test in Portugal and Jerez I need to just do some laps and get my brain back up to speed. I don't think I'll even be mentioning the shoulder when it comes to Phillip Island. I want to start the year quite strong and then go from there. I feel really calm actually. I don't feel like I've missed anything."

Lowes maintained that, despite a more-than-trying year aboard the outdated Suzuki GSX-RR, which suffered from a myriad of electronics issues, his experiences on less competitive machinery have helped him to mature and calm his demeanour.

With the added factory support from Yamaha, Lowes sees no reason why he and Guintoli should not be competitive from the first race of the season.

"I think we should be fast from the start. There is no reason why we shouldn't be competitive from the first races. There's nothing more than that. I feel good. The team is fantastic. My team-mate has obviously been world champion before.

"The biggest change [with factory support] is that you finish the test and speak to the guys, request some parts in some areas on the bike and you turn up at the next one and they have some ideas to come back to you. Not that I struggle for motivation but when you know the team behind you are putting in... I'm not saying that the team last year didn't put in 100 percent.

"The mechanics and the guys in the workshop worked harder than any people I've met. But in terms of having the factory wanting results, and trying to develop the bike for results, it makes the motivation to rider a lot easier. You have something that can help you progress and that's why it's easy to get up in the morning and go training. It's not like a job!"

CLICK HERE to read our full interview with Alex Lowes



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