“At the minute it has sort of been me that’s been beating myself up rather than me getting beat.”
That’s Sam Lowes addressing where he’s at seven rounds into the 2021 Moto2 season. After winning the two opening races of the year in Qatar, costly DNFs at the ensuing Portugal, France and Italy Grands Prix caused the Marc VDS racer to tumble down the leaderboard to fourth. Undaunted, Lowes knows he has the pace to fulfill his goal of becoming a Moto2 world champion, but needs to minimize the mistakes. RACER spoke to him ahead of this weekend’s German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring.
Q: What do you make of the Sachsenring? Do you like the place?
SAM LOWES: Yeah. It’s very different to a lot of the tracks. It’s quite small and technical. A lot of the time you’re on the side of the tire and you have to find the best way to find the grip, but not to overheat the left side of the tire because there are so many left corners in a row. It’s quite a challenging concept to find the grip so you can go quick, but to not overheat the tires so you’re struggling at the end of the race. It’s a track that I like, and it is one that we obviously missed in 2020, so I’m really looking forward to getting here and racing. There’s always been close racing here. It’s such a short lap time – 1m23s or 1m24s. It’s going to be hectic in Moto2. There will be very close racing here.
Q: As far as your 2021 racing season goes, you won the first two races at Qatar, but then made a few mistakes and failed to finish races at Portimao, Le mans and Mugello. Something of a mixed bag?
SL: Yeah, definitely a mixed bag. We’ve definitely given away some points. The Le Mans crash was a little bit of a racing incident, and was just overtaking on a damp track. Mugello was an unfortunate one, to give away a minimum of 20 points, if not 25 points. We gave the guys a bit of a head start, but at the minute it has sort of been me that’s been beating myself up, rather than me getting beat. We just need to focus on these next two races at Germany and at Assen, and to get some points on the board and to really kick it on after the summer break.
After the break, I want to get started like we did at Qatar this year. I want to get back to that, and back to winning some races. I think we’ve been a little bit below par since Qatar, but it’s not been about the speed, it’s been about getting the bike over the finish line. Every weekend we’ve been quick and the points have been available to us, we’ve just not been over the line at a few races, and that’s what we need to really address. That’s definitely better than not having the pace.. At least that’s a positive.
Q: Yes, you’ve been at the sharp end of the field in all seven races so far in ’21, so you know the speed and overall race pace is there…
SL: Yeah, I think the potential is obviously there. Starting with Qatar, we’ve had wins or been fighting for wins and podiums. We’ve just given a little bit away, but the season is long and we’ve got time on our side. It’s not like there are just two races to go. There are still a lot of races to go, but we really just need to start making the points count, and take our potential and utilize it on Sunday.
Q: Remy Gardner, Raul Fernandez, Fabio Giannantonio and yourself have all won races so far in 2021. How have you seen the competition so far this season?
SL: The two KTM Ajo riders are doing really well and they’ve finished every race, so they’ve actually racked up a lot of points and have been really fast everywhere. Obviously Marco Bezzecchi is third in the points. He’s a fellow Monster rider and he’s been doing a good job. I think it’s us four, really. Even though I’m only fourth in the standings, us four have been, lap time-wise, a little bit of a step above the rest, so I don’t see that changing too much. We just need to start taking some points away from those top two guys, and to give them some more to think about. We’ve been giving them the speed on Friday and Saturday, but they’ve been getting it done on Sunday, so that’s what we need to look at. But I think it will be us four guys are going to end up being in the top three at the end of the year, and fighting between us.
Q: No room to breathe in that Moto2 classification with how fierce the competition us, huh?
SL: Yeah, in the last race we ended up in seventh and with just nine points, but from lap three until the end of the race, we were the fastest on track. We just got boxed in by being 13th on lap one. It’s very difficult in this class to make that gap up. I need to really focus on the starts and the first laps to put myself in the best positions. I think that’s the key in Moto2. Like you said, there is no room to breathe. If you’re a little bit behind the eight-ball in the first laps, you can ride as good as everyone else, but it’s hard to make the time up. There’s a long ways to go, and anything can happen. Definitely anything can happen. We do have to make it start happening on Sundays, but there is a long ways to go and we just need to keep racking those points up and get the ball rolling again.