New Samsung Honda Rider Alex Lowes Talks to Paddock Chatter

Alex Lowes impressed in 2012

Photo: FreezeFrame-Photography.co.uk

The 2012 British Superbike season was almost a rite of passage in the career of Alex Lowes. After the trials and tribulations of 2011, a season which saw him begin with Team WFR Honda and end with Rob Mac Racing’s Motorpoint Yamaha via MSS Colchester Kawasaki and Ten Kate Honda, a return to the WFR fold last saw the fast, young Lincolnshire-man regain his almost boundless enthusiasm and confidence that culminated in him securing his maiden BSB win, which then immediately turned in to his maiden ‘double’ at Silverstone back in October and firmly place him as a contender for the crown in 2013.


We caught up with Alex to find out his thoughts on that torrid 2011 season, his rejuvenation in 2012 and what 2013 could hold for the Samsung Honda title hopeful.
We’ll start with 2011, talk us through it briefly, from your perspective – what did you learn from that whole experience?

I think that 2011 was a really big year for me because I learnt such a lot, I gained a wealth of experience on few different bikes and worked with lots influential and knowledgeable people. I almost had 3 seasons in one that year, although it was a hard point at the end as I crashed a lot, picked up some injuries and then didn’t have a ride at all, but I managed to come through all that as a much better person and rider and with a much clearer outlook. 

I understood quickly that I need to change my approach to the races but also that there were a lot of positives to build on, for instance, it was my first time on a full-spec Superbike with Ten Kate Honda and I was quick from the start which was really satisfying and helped massively towards rebuilding my confidence. When everything was going wrong for me but my brother was doing well in the World Championship, it was a hard time for me to understand things he way I wanted; it made me think a lot about what I wanted from my career and how to achieve it. I think it will definitely help me in the future too, as having been through that phase in my career, I’m mentally stronger because of it and find it easier to appreciate where I am now.

You went full circle and returned to WFR Honda to spearhead their 2012 BSB season, would you agree it was the best way to put a solid campaign together and rebuild that momentum from early 2011 without the pressure of a Swan, Tyco or PBM ride for example?

Yes, definitely. I knew that WFR and their Hondas were a good package and, most importantly, we had already put the fall out of 2011 firmly behind us. I don’t regret that episode at all as I wasn’t happy to continue under the circumstances at the time, it was far from what I wanted. I knew I could be competitive on the Honda, just as I was on the EVO bike in 2011, I just needed to get the same consistency and confidence with the new bike as I had with the old.

Another positive step was that I started training with Kirk Gibbons in the winter before 2012, he has helped me in a big way both physically and mentally, which is something I am really happy about. He’s sorted my head out and allowed me to change how I approach the racing and it is starting to show more and more. Myles from WFR still believed in me and took me back and, to be fair, he helped me an awful lot so thanks to him. 

I was quietly confident for 2012 as, although 2011 was far from ideal, the speed was always there so all I needed was to get back to being consistent, not to mention to ride the same bike for more than 3 races, and it would come together. I do agree that it was the best way to go, yes, and as you rightly say, there wasn’t the added pressure of a top team so I could just work away and focus on my racing. 

Your true form started to show from Cadwell Park, then a great couple of rides in Assen that really got people talking. What changed?

My goal last year was to make the Showdown. At the start of the year we had a few problems, one of which being I wasn’t 100 percent happy with the front end feeling of the Honda, couple that with the re-building process and it made for an unsettled start to the season . After the Brands Hatch BSB round in July we had a 3 week break from racing, so we organised two test days where we could change some settings on the bike that aren’t really possible over a race weekend and found the feeling I had been looking for. I knew at the Cadwell Park test that I was going to be challenging at the front because my confidence was back, it was just the best feeling ever and had been along time coming, since probably my debut Pole Position at Thruxton, 2011. 

We had a further test at Donington Park and I was quick yet again and that just confirmed we’d made huge steps forward with the Honda. Before the Summer break I was finishing in around 6th or 7th position, just that bit off the front group, and after it I managed to secure 4 out of 5 pole positions, take 2 wins and make 5 visits to the podium all because I was confident, happy and with a great feeling on the bike. 

Silverstone was your BSB coming of age, there was nobody to touch you and you showed people what Alex Lowes is all about. Talk us through your feelings from that weekend.

Obviously by the time I got to Silverstone I was feeling hugely confident and really really enjoying the bike and the team. Silverstone is a track that suits my style completely and I was fastest in every session, it was just a dream weekend for me and was the right time for me to win. It meant so much to me especially coming off 2011. Definitely the best day of my life so far.

Lowes shocked Shakey with a last corner overtake
at Silverstone

Photo: freezeframe-photography.co.uk

We championed you for the Samsung Honda ride once we knew WFR were sadly withdrawing. How did the ride come about?

I was in contact with Honda already about supporting me with my WFR ride for 2013, then when I knew WFR were out I spoke to them again and reaffirmed that it was my priority to stay on a Honda. I’m really lucky that we could come to an agreement for 2013. 

You must be very happy to have an experienced team-mate in Ryuichi Kiyonari, what can you learn from him?

Yes I cannot wait to work with Kiyo, he’s a 3 time British Champion with MotoGP and WSB experience and I will be able to learn plenty from him. I’m going to be almost like a sponge, learning what I can, not just from him, but from the experience of the team too.

You’ve earned this high-profile ride, without question, how does this change your approach for 2013 over 2012, or is it the same focus to do your best as always, just with higher expectations from the team? 

My philosophy is always the same, to do my very best. I’ve been working really hard over the winter and now I also know I can win because I’ve done it, twice, so its all about aiming to be consistent, to get into a showdown position and then its all about the last 3 rounds.

BSB 2013 is being billed as Shakey vs Kiyo so far, we don’t quite see it that way, though. Can you spoil the party? We certainly think so.

Yes.

Your twin brother, Sam, is a big part of your race weekend along with your trainer, Kirk. How do they help over a race weekend? 

Kirk keeps me thinking all the right things and keeps me focused. I know that when I get to the race I’m as fully prepared as I can be, so its all about me controlling the nerves and remaining calm. They know what to say and they know what I like to do, I have a routine that they help me keep to.

You also spend time with Glen Richards and Leon Haslam, two vastly experienced riders. How much have they helped you over the last  year or so?

I train with Leon everyday and he is someone that has definitely helped me for a long time now, he’s a very good friend and obviously has been there and done it in BSB so has a lot of good advice for me. Glen is someone I spend most of my time with at the races and see a lot away from the track too. He is a very calm person and rider, and I have a need to calm down at times, I’d like to think that some of his renowned calmness will rub off on me! I certainly have the right people around me, so its all positive.

What’s your goal for 2013 and how are you going to achieve it?

My goal is to win the British Superbike Championship. I will be prepared the best I can possibly be, so then it’s all about performing consistently to the level I know I can and using my head. I can do it. 

Whats the plan for the next 3 years?

I currently don’t now whats going on with the World SBK Championship with the Dorna take over, but obviously I want to get back on the World Stage, it’s every riders dream to race at world level. Firstly though, I want to focus on BSB and continue to really enjoy my racing.

It’s abundantly clear that Alex Lowes has one goal, and one goal only for 2013 and that’s to become British Superbike Champion for the very first time. With the support network he has around him, the winter preparations and the backing of a multiple time championship-winning team, there is nothing that will stand in the way of him doing all he can to try and make that goal a reality.
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