Point to prove for ousted Alex Lowes as Portimao WorldSBK beckons

Where will Alex Lowes race in the 2020 WorldSBK Championship following his ousting from Pata Yamaha by Toprak Razgatlioglu?

Alex Lowes - Pata Yamaha WorldSBK

The World Superbike Championship resumes at Portimao this weekend with several riders coming into the event with a point to prove following the first movements of what is set to be an eventful WorldSBK riders’ market.

With ex-MotoGP-turned-BSB title contender Scott Redding confirmed alongside Chaz Davies in the factory Aruba.it Ducati team for 2020, it all-but-assures Alvaro Bautista’s passage to Honda, while Eugene Laverty is on his way to BMW to replace Markus Reiterberger, where he will almost certainly partner Tom Sykes.

However, it is Pata Yamaha that has shaken things up with the news that Alex Lowes has been shuffled out of its rider line-up. Highly rated Turkish rider Toprak Razgatlioglu set to be announced alongside Michael van der Mark on the updated Yamaha R1 for 2020.

What now for Alex Lowes?

Lowes’ impending departure from the Pata Yamaha team is a somewhat bitter outcome for a rider that has been instrumental to the development of the current generation Yamaha R1 since it was introduced in 2016 and is now arguably a more competitive force against the might of Kawasaki and Ducati than ever before.

Moreover, his exit will see him sever ties with Crescent Racing, with whom he has raced since 2014 – in the wake of his BSB title win - when it originally ran the Suzuki factory effort. 

However, there are few who doubt Lowes – currently third in the WorldSBK standings – will not be on the grid in 2020. His best options are a spot alongside Bautista at Honda, where his status as the last rider to win a (fairly) high-profile title on the ‘blade in 2013 BSB is unlikely to have been forgotten.

Having passed up the chance to promote Razgatlioglu from its satellite Puccetti effort, the factory Kawasaki Racing Team – which is on course for a fifth straight WorldSBK crown with Jonathan Rea – may also see value in Lowes in place of Leon Haslam, who has struggled to get comfortable on the ZX-10RR with its electronics package having marched to the 2018 BSB title on an electronics-free machine. 

Rumours suggest Haslam could shuffle over to a de facto factory-specification machine run by Puccetti, a plan that was already being considered weeks ago when KRT was courting Tito Rabat prior to him re-signing with Avinitia Racing in MotoGP.

There could also remain options at Yamaha itself, with a seat at GRT coming when Marco Melandri hangs up his helmet, though this is expected to be filled by either Federico Caricasulo or Randy Krummenacher, while Ten Kate Racing could also swell to a two-bike entry too. 

Would Lowes see the value in taking on Razgatlioglu on the same machine, even if it is in a satellite capacity…?

Portimao awaits for Pata Yamaha team

In the meantime, Lowes can only go and show Yamaha what it could be missing out on track in Portugal this weekend. Portimao isn’t a circuit that has produced great results for Lowes in the past, but he was quickest in the most recent test there.

“I'm really looking forward to getting back to racing. While it's nice to have a bit of a break in the middle of the season, you do miss racing. I'm ready now for the second part of the season, where the challenge is going to be to hold on to third place in the championship, and I need to be fighting for the podium in every race at these last four rounds if I'm to do that. 

“We were really strong at the recent test in Portimão, where I did my fastest ever lap at this track to finish on top of the timesheet, which shows the bike is working well. 

“The conditions were quite hot at the test and I didn't quite have the feeling I wanted in the afternoons when the track temperature went up, but we have some ideas to improve in this area and, hopefully, we will have similar temperatures on Friday to work on this. I'm feeling really positive and I'm raring to go this weekend."

Portimao WorldSBK Schedule

WorldSBK Acerbis Portuguese Round, Autódromo Internacional do Algarve Event Schedule (GMT +0)
Friday 6 September
9:00 - 9:30WorldSSP 300FP1 (Group A)
9:45 - 10:15WorldSSP 300FP1 (Group B)
10:30 - 11:20WorldSBKFP1
11:30 - 12:15WorldSSPFP1
13:30 - 14:00WorldSSP 300FP2 (Group A)
14:15 - 14:45WorldSSP 300FP2 (Group B)
15:00 - 15:50WorldSBKFP2 
16:00 - 16:45WorldSSPFP2
Saturday 7 September
09:00 - 9:20WorldSBKFP3
09:30 - 09:50WorldSSPFP3
10:00 - 10:15WorldSSP 300FP3 (Group A)
10:25 - 10:40WorldSSP 300FP3 (Group B)
11:00 - 11:25WorldSBKSuperpole
11:40 - 12:05WorldSSPSuperpole
12:20 - 12:40WorldSSP 300Superpole (Group A)
12:50 - 13:10WorldSSP 300Superpole (Group B)
14:00WorldSBKRACE 1
15:15WorldSSP 300Last Chance Race
Sunday 8 September
09:00 - 09:15WorldSBKWarm-up
09:25 - 09:40WorldSSPWarm-up
09:50 - 10:05WorldSSP 300Warm-up
14:00WorldSBKRACE 2
15:15WorldSSP 300RACE