Not long after the third and final 22-lap race of the 2020 Superbike World Championship opening weekend at Phillip Island had ended with Alex Lowes taking the measure of his new Kawasaki teammate and five-time WSBK world champion Jonathan Rea by just 0.037s after drag race to the line, Rea thought a few things through.
“And with Alex, it’s always a fresh experience when you have a new teammate coming into the team,” offered Rea. “I think Alex is quite easy to get on with, and he’s showing good potential, and now he’s on one of the best bikes and on one of the best teams in the paddock.”
New to the Kawasaki Racing Team after six years of lining up for Suzuki and Yamaha and with one race win coming his way at Brno in 2018, 29 year-old Lowes, who placed third to Rea and Alvaro Bautista in the 2019 WSBK title brawl, now goes to the starting grid armed with a works Kawasaki ZX-10RR. First, though, he’ll need to ride out the pandemic clampdown.
“Yeah, obviously, we’re in lockdown in England, so my wife Corinne and I leave the house for exercise or to go to the supermarket to get food, so we’re not doing too much,” said Lowes.
“It’s been four weeks like this. It’s a little bit of an inconvenience, but obviously we have to do it to try and get on top of the virus. Yeah, there is nothing to do. Obviously, we haven’t been able to ride since Australia. We can go and do some running and cycling outside in England, but it’s a little bit boring, really, because we’re itching to get back on the bike. But it is the same for everybody. We just have to be as positive as we can.”
Last week, the organizers of the WSBK have announced that they are aiming to fire the season back up on the first weekend in July at Donington Park in England. Having a date to hit, any sort of date, is music to Lowes’ ears, yet almost everything is still in to-be-determined mode.
“Yeah, because you’re always working towards something, but at the minute, we don’t know if it’s going to be a few weeks or a few months,” Lowes explained. “We don’t really have that information. That’s always the hardest thing – when you’ve got no deadline or no plan or something you need to get done. Like in schoo,l when you get homework and it is due on Friday. Yeah, you might do it later, but at least you know you need to do it. At this minute and with our racing, we just don’t know.
“I’ve stayed in close contact with the team. We speak once or twice a week on FaceTime with a big group chat, which has been quite good. We’ve been able to speak and to see how everyone is getting on. Obviously, we’ve got mechanics in Spain and Italy. Our crew chief is in Holland and we have other guys working, so we’re spread around Europe and we’ve been catching up, and I’m trying to see how the situation is in each different country, but it has been nice to see them going, and obviously it would be nice to see them in person as soon as possible.”
Lowes has also been working on and off the racetracks with Rea.
“I’ve always gotten on with Johnny well, and you don’t need to say anything about his results as he’s a guy to beat,” he said. “The team is fantastic, and if Johnny and I get on, it makes it a lot easier and better for everybody, so the dynamics with the team have been really good. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”
The season-opening race weekend at Phillip Island, Australian went quite well for Lowes, who was second by a mere 0.007s behind Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatliouglu in race one, fourth in the Tissot Superpole race to Rea on Sunday morning, and won the spectacular third and conclusive race in a straight-up dogfight with Rea.
“I felt good on the bike during all the winter testing,” he said. “In Australia, I worked really hard during the test and on old tires because there is something about tires and being fast at the end of the race at Philip Island. For me, the homework paid off. Marcel, my crew chief, and I had a really good plan during the test, so we worked well together and it was just nice to get a couple of podiums and grab the first win early in the season. I’ve got all of that off my back now, and I can just enjoy it when we do get back to racing again. I’m just going to try and be as consistent as possible and want to fight for more wins every weekend.
So cam he win the WSBK World Championship?
“Yeah, that’s my goal and my dream, and it’s one of the reasons I wanted to join the Kawasaki team,” he said. “I wanted to go up against Jonathan on the same bike. Yeah, I believe I can be World Champion. I still have a lot to learn and a lot to improve, but with these guys around, I know I can do it. It’s going to be about being patient and understanding that it is still going to be my first year on the Kawasaki. The belief is there. The motivation is there. I’m just excited to get back and see the guys and get riding again, but right now we have to do the right thing and stay at home.”