Now in his ninth season in the MotoGP World Championship’s Moto2 category, Sam Lowes secured his first victory of the year with Marc VDS Racing at Jerez last month. Now he’s got even bigger goals in mind.
“Yeah, we really did well on a lot of levels at Jerez,” Lowes says. “And coming back from injury, it has just taken me longer than I thought to get back to the level I need to be at, so I knew that the Jerez track was good for me. I’d already rode this year’s bike in testing at Jerez. Everybody did, but we had a good feeling, so yep, I wanted to make a good weekend and a strong weekend and to take a step forward from the first few races.
“My shoulder and everything is feeling good now, so I expected to be strong, but not quite as strong as that. It’s always nice when it works in that direction, rather not being as strong as you think. I knew it was coming and I have been working towards it, but yes, it was a very proud moment for me to come back from where I’ve been. There were certain points last year that I wasn’t even sure if I would be racing this year with the shoulder problems. There is pride and happiness, but definitely also a lot of relief in that result, honestly.”
For Lowes, the Jerez triumph was akin to lighting a match on his ’23 title charge.
“In racing there are a lot of guys that are fast and there are a lot of teams that are good and there are there are bikes that are good, but the biggest thing that slows you down or speeds you up is your confidence and how you are feeling, so that’s something you can’t buy,” he notes. “You’ve got to wait until it comes your way until you’re feeling good on the bike. Now I feel like I’ve got a lot of things under control. I feel confident in what I’m doing. These are the moments in racing, probably in sport, actually, where you really have to kick on and make the most of it.
“There are some really good tracks coming up, tracks where I have performed well on in the past. Coming off of this result, there is no reason why I can’t go there and do the same. It’s a tight class and a tough class that we’re in, but when your moment comes you have to try and make the most of it. There is not extra pressure, it’s that you need to try and use that good momentum.”
Lowes rides the No. 22 Marc VDS Triumph-powered Kalex in Moto2, where the regulations limit the chances to gain technical advantage, so confidence and setup skills are paramount.
“Everything here is so competitive, with the engines and a lot of other things being the same,” he explains. “Each weekend comes down to a good direction on the Friday or a good setting on the Saturday. It is in the details. I feel like we’ve worked hard this year in the testing and also with the test we did this week. We have things under control, which is obviously really important. Yeah, we just use all of the benefits that we can.”
With crew chief Gilles Bigot along with team members Adria Perez, Steven Bradley and Anthony Couturier, Lowes believes he is a part of a championship-caliber racing effort.
“I’m lucky to have such an experienced crew that have seen it all before,” he says. “They’ve seen the good and bad times, so they can see how I was riding and they saw my speed and my consistency. They were not panicked during these first three races of the new season. Maybe other teams would have been changing more things, but they still knew that I wasn’t far off from doing something really nice. When you’re training between all of these days off, you’re able to relax knowing you’re going to the next race at Le Mans with good people around you. It makes it all a lot easier.
“I think when you do things together and you achieve good things, it’s such a positive. You know we’ve done a lot of good races together now at different tracks and in different situations and we’ve had some good race wins. I think that when you do that together, you believe in each other. When you do win and you do it together, it’s not just talk. It’s fact. We have the race wins to back it up. We have a nice relationship. I know that they’ve got my back and they know that I can do things like I did last weekend when everything is good. it makes me proud to have those guys there for me.”
Lowes has worked at maintaining focus on race weekends and keeping his eyes, interests and concerns fixed to his side of the garage.
“You can get a little bit of looking left and right when things are not going good,” he says. “You end up looking at what people have or what they’re doing. I have to believe that when everything is right I can do the job. There is not much sense for me to look at other people or get carried away or get distracted by comments of other people, because I know that I’m working hard and I know that the team is working hard and we are doing everything we can. When you go to bed at night knowing that and you’re doing everything you can, that’s all we can do, isn’t it? I just look at myself and improve the areas that I’ve made mistakes in or the areas where I’m weak and when I do that and we out everything together, we are not far away.”
Lowes is aware that there is still a very long Moto2 season before him and will now focus on the immediate task coming his way: The French Grand Prix one the Le Mans Bugatti circuit next weekend.
“There are a lot of races coming after the summer break. If you hit the ground running now, it’s hard to keep that momentum,” he admits. “Of course in an ideal world I want to win every race, but it’s a long season and you need to do the hard yards now and just be consistent and not reach too much at the wrong moment. Le Mans is the track where I first won with this team in 2020. It’s a good atmosphere always there and a great event. The track suits my style with a lot of braking and a lot of tight corners and that s something that I am quite strong at, so it suits my style. That’s always nice when you’re a rider and you can go there and sort of ride your natural way. I’m looking forward to it. With the experience I’ve got now and the mistakes I’ve made and learned from, (that) is stuff that you can’t buy. It’s all another tool that I’ve got and I’m able to make it work for me.”
With seven months, and 14 more races still ahead of him, how does the 31-year-old Briton and brother to Kawasaki World Superbike challenger Alex Lowes rate his chances at the Moto2 championship?
“Honestly, with the way I feel with this year’s bike and with the team, getting that first win makes a massive difference. To be only round four and to already have that is something that I can take a lot of confidence from. My goal now with the next four or five races before the summer break is to keep myself in the championship and get some strong rides. If the win is there, take it. I just want to keep myself in it and then keep on after the summer break and go after the championship.”