MotoGP

Lowes: I’ve got to be happy

Sam Lowes is satisfied with a sixth place in the first round of 2019; “if somebody said to me in Valencia last year that in Qatar, you’ll have beaten Marini, you’ll have beaten Marquez, you’ll have beat Binder I’d have said, ‘OK’.”

Sam Lowes has declared himself “happy” with a top six finish in the first Moto2 race of 2019, with the three-time grand prix race winner citing the importance of collecting important points early into the season.

The Englishman was among the pre-race favourites after stunning showings throughout preseason testing. In the 20-lap race at the Losail International Circuit, however, he encountered “a lot of chatter” that held him back.

“All things considered it was good,” said Lowes, sixth at the chequered flag and 3.3s off the race winner. “Midway through the race I was four seconds down. I finished three seconds [off]. I just got in a battle and me and [Xavi] Vierge had a little bit of a coming together. We both ran wide. Then some people came through.

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“In the end, if somebody said to me in Valencia last year that in Qatar, you’ll have beaten Marini, you’ll have beaten Marquez, you’ll have beat Binder I’d have said, ‘OK’. So I’ve got to be happy.

“Everyone got up to speed here. Three days testing, three-day race weekend. We got up to speed quick. I think in the next races that will help us a lot. So I’m happy. I’m loving the team. I needed to finish today.

“I’m not making mistakes. I need to get rid of the old rhythm and I need to just keep up my confidence.”

Compared to the test, Lowes’ feelings through the race weekend were, “A little bit worse. Also the race was slow. Not just me - everybody was slow. In the race I got close to my fastest time from the test but not really. Last night was close but it was a few tenths off, but everybody was.

“Everyone at the test was doing 1m 58s. It felt okay. I did feel worse. I had a lot of chatter in the race, a lot of the front tyre spinning, a little bit on the rear. But a lot of chatter.

“[Recently] I’ve not been in the fight. I’ve not been in the fight for a long time. Towards the end of last year with the team and everything I was just, not riding for nothing, but you’re different when you’re battling for 18th, 15th, 14th. It’s different.

“It was so important to finish this race. No point being fast the whole time, not make any mistakes, and then when it comes to it, do make a mistake. So I think I just need to get a bit of ammunition in the pocket the first three or four races and then kick on.

“Here I’ve always messed up. So I’m actually happy to get it in the pocket. I love Argentina. I love Austin. Really can’t wait to get there and be strong. Building the blocks like this. We can get the next few races in a real good way and then get going.”

Lowes has identified rear grip as an area to improve in the coming weeks. “We still need to work on it,” he said. “Looking at everyone else today they need to work as well. So it’s not just me. Still need to work. The second part is improved, but I need more digging on the first touch of the throttle.

“So I think we need especially Argentina we’re going to have a hard time with a dusty track. It’s definitely there we will need to work on.”

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