YAMAHA DOUBLE UP AT SUZUKA
Alex Lowes hails Suzuka win as best moment of his life
Alex Lowes and his Yamaha teammates Pol Espargaró and Katsuyuki Nakasuga secured a stunning victory at the Suzuka 8 Hours at the weekend.
Leading the prestigious endurance race for the majority of the eight hours, the pre-race favourites and reigning champions looked almost unbeatable all weekend long, and were able to ride a completely faultless and controlling race on Sunday.
The victory couldn’t have come at a better time for Lowes, with the Pata Crescent Yamaha rider having a tough season to date in World Superbikes.
“It’s a fantastic feeling. We did a great job early in the race to get a gap, and then the second half of the race it was just really important to stay out of trouble and to look after the bike. I was a bit nervous in the last stint, because it was a brand new experience to me; riding in the dark, you start hearing noises on the bike and everything!
“We had a gap, so I wasn’t pushing - but then you have to be careful not to lose your concentration as well! The end was amazing – you do one more lap after the final lap, and I was stood on the bike surrounded by people. It was one of the best moments of my life.”
It also showed how much maturity the former MCE British Superbike racer has developed in recent years to move beyond his reputation as a fast but sometimes wild racer. Taking the pressure of the world’s most important superbike race in his stride in front of the Japanese firm’s top bosses, he barely put a foot wrong all weekend.
“It’s a different feeling from normal when you’re maybe not expected to win but when you know you’ve got a chance to win. It adds a bit of pressure all week long, and it makes it even more enjoyable.
“It’s such an important race for Yamaha. I believe in myself and in my riding, and obviously I’ve had a bad year in World Superbikes with injures and not many good results, so it’s nice to come here and do a solid job. I made one mistake in qualifying, but it happens, and they’ve seen that I did a good job. Hopefully that’ll carry over to World Superbikes now and give us the little bit of help we need to get the next step there.”
And, while the factory endurance R1 is a long way removed from what he normally rides in the World Superbike championship, Lowes is also confident that there will be lessons learned at Suzuka that he can take forward to apply to the remainder of his season.
“There are a few things I can take back with me, and because you do so much riding here you can improve that in general a bit too. Riding the exact same bike with two completely different team-mates helps you to see what they’re doing better too and to learn from them, as well as showing you what you do better than them. I’ve learned a lot and I’m looking forward to getting back to World Superbikes – once I take a few weeks to enjoy this!”
‘Riding in the dark, you start hearing noises on the bike and everything!’