Third-place finisher in the 2019 World SuperBike Championship, Alex Lowes is trading the blue of Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team for Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK’s green next season.
“I want to try and challenge for the World SuperBike Championship properly and be a proper contender to Johnny Rea,” said Lowes, who hit the podium a career-high nine times in 2019. “Jonathan won the title for the fifth time in a row. Clearly, he’s one of the best SuperBike riders ever, so we need to try hunt him down and stop him from winning.”
After four years with the highly-competitive Pata Yamaha WorldSBK outfit, Lowes will team with five-time WorldSBK Champion Rea. The final races of the season now done and dusted, Lowes will now let the WorldSBK good times roll on a 2020 Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10RR.
“It kind of came out of nowhere,” he said. “In the middle of August, Alex Hodgson, he manages me still, he called me up one day and said, ‘You’ll never guess who I had on the phone.’ The call was from Kawasaki to see what we were doing next year and if my contract was up or not. It just went from there, really. Obviously, if you could choose any bike on the grid, you’d decide to ride on this team. It’s a dream move for me and hopefully we can take a step forward in the results.”
Also stunned by Lowes’s move to Kawasaki was recent Yamaha teammate Michael Van Der Mark, who was not shy about letting the world know how impressed he was with Lowes’s season.
“The thing with Yamaha was that they wanted me to stay, but they wanted me to move sideways to one of the new teams,” explained Lowes. “I’d have preferred to stay in the factory team, but the Kawasaki opportunity came along. It’s a logical step for me, and I’m really excited about that. And going back to Yamaha, I leave on good terms with those guys. We had a great few years and I’ve really enjoyed being part of it. Sometimes it can be good to make a little bit of a change.
“This year on the Yamaha we had some really strong points – especially the turning of the bike in long corners,” continued Lowes. “At Qatar at the last race I was following Rea for 10 or 11 laps in the first race and noticed I may have to change my style a little bit from how I’ve been riding the Yamaha. I think it’s going to suit them. I’m getting interested to see how the bike is. I’ll ride the Kawasaki next week, which will be in Aragon. I’m only guessing from what I see from following the bike on the track, but the bike certainly looks on good form, that’s for sure. It’s going to nice to be starting there and not really knowing the Kawasaki team guys too well and having to get to know them more and get to know the bike. It’s a fresh start that I’m looking forward to.”
And of Rea?
“We’ve been racing against each other a long time,” Lowes said. “Johnny and I have been doing this for a lot of years now. Obviously, he’s the benchmark at the minute in Superbike. What he has done in the last five years has been incredible. It’s really something else. Next year I’ll obviously be on the same machine as him and it’ll be nice to see how he has been able to do it and be so dominant in World Superbike. Hopefully I can learn a few things and give him a little bit of a hard time after a few rounds.”
As Lowes referenced, 2020 World Superbike testing will begin later this month at Jerez. Joining Rea and Lowes at the test will be Chaz Davis and Scott Redding of Aruba.it Racing Ducati; Michael van der Mark and Toprak Razgatlioglu of Pata Yamaha; Alvaro Bautista with the new Honda team; and Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty of the BMW Motorrad organization. When asked about how he’ll approach the approaching season, Lowes was quick answer about his 2020 master plan.
“It’s quite simple, really,” he said. “Every year I look at what I’d done the year before and try to improve on that. For 2020, I also want to understand some things that I can improve on myself. This year obviously there are a lot of open ends for me because I have not ridden the new bike yet and don’t know the new team yet, but I expect to work really hard this winter. There are two tests this winter – one in Aragon and one at Jerez. I plan to put plenty of laps in with the guys and be ready to be challenging from the front come Philip Island.
“Now I expect myself to challenge for the podium every single weekend. We will also need to work on what more we can do finish in the championship in terms of challenging Johnny. It’ll depend on how fast I get used to the bike. I believe in myself. Honestly, I feel fairly relaxed about all this. It’s strange, really. I’m just excited to get started.
“2020 is going to be a big year for World Superbike. Look at Bautista this year. He was amazing the first four or five rounds. He was winning quite easily, but then he had a tougher second half of the year. Ducati have had such a top speed advantage this year. You can even clearly see that on television and he was riding the bike perfectly to use that advantage. Fair play to him. Next year he is moving to Honda and that will interesting to see what the bike is like over there. Hopefully it is competitive, because we want the racing at the front to be as close as possible. It’s all going to be very interesting to see.”