Smith’s pain is Lowes’ gain for British GP
Alex Lowes to ride for Monster Tech3 Yamaha in place of injured Bradley Smith at British GP
World Superbike racer Alex Lowes will wild card at the British Motogp this weekend Ð replacing the injured Bradley Smith for a two-race stint onboard the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine at both Silverstone and Misano.
The opportunity has come just days after Lowes tested the Yamaha M1 at Brno and as a result of regular rider Bradley Smith suffering a sickening crash in practice for the Oscherleben 8-hour World Endurance race where he had been drafted in to help Yamaha secure the title.
Òobviously itõs not ideal circumstances for Bradley, but itõs a good thing for me,ó explained Lowes. ÒI tried the bike last week, but it was only a handful of laps, and itõs definitely straight in at the deep end this weekend. Iõll have to pinch myself on Sunday when IÕM sitting on the starting grid with Rossi, Lorenzo and Marquez.ó
Lowes was rewarded with the chance to test the M1 after winning last monthõs Suzuka 8-Hour alongside Yamaha GP rider Pol Espargar—. Taking to the track at the very end of the session, Lowes managed to complete only 14 laps before an unfortunate crash brought his testing to a halt. But despite the fall, he finished the day only four seconds off the pace set by fastest man Jorge Lorenzo Ð and only a second and a half off the time set by Espargar— himself in the weekendõs first practice session. His pace after just 14 laps onboard the M1 impressed Yamaha bosses enough to ensure he was the natural replacement for Smith.
ÒI feel like if I had ridden all day I would have been quite fast. In 14 laps, thereõs only so much you can do, because itõs not even one free practice session. If I had been out in free practice one with a bit more time, I would have been ok against some of the grid. I think when people try a Motogp bike for the first time, it always takes a long time to get used to it Ð and Iõve done quite well!ó
And while he managed to be fast right off the mark, he conceded afterwards that the amount of time on the bike simply wasnõt enough to understand all the nuances of a machine that is so fundamentally different from his usual Pata Crescent Yamaha R1 WSB bike.
ÒIT was so nice to ride; the electronics are good, the chassis is good; itõs really nice,ó he said.
ÒITÕS what I expected, and maybe even a little better. The power really stood out - when you lift it up on a straight it just goes!ó
But even the crash wasnõt enough to dent the mark he left on the paddock with his times, with Lowes admitting afterwards to MCN that it demonstrated that he was willing to push and to prove himself on the bike.
ÒIT was the last lap of the day, I was a little bit wide in turn three, and I moved the rear of the bike a little bit too much when I braked. Thereõs not a huge difference, but when you apply them they jump a bit more compared to normal brakes. That lifted the rear a bit, and I just closed the front.
ÒITÕS not nice to crash. But it was an incredible opportunity, and I had to try it on the bike. Whatõs the point in just going out and riding around?ó
Heõll have more of a chance to get time on the bike over the backto-back race weekends - but the Lincolnshire racer is keen to stress that he isnõt expecting immediate success at Silverstone this weekend.
Òwhen the people in front of you on the grid are so far in front of you in terms of their knowledge of the bike and the tyres itõs impossible to know how youõll go. Itõs a completely different kettle of fish to superbike racing, and weõve seen people moving up in the past and taking two or three days to get up to speed.
ÒI canõt be too ambitious; IÕM going to go there, enjoy it for what it is, and hopefully learn something that I can take back to World Superbikes. I have no expectations Ð I just want to go have fun and enjoy the opportunity for what it is.ó ■ Sam Lowes tests Aprilia Motogp machine at Misano, p 75
‘I’m going to go there, enjoy it for what it is, and hopefully learn something’ ALEX LOWES
Lowes reunited with 8-Hours team-mate Espargaró Next time Lowes rides the M1 it will be at Silverstone!