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Sam Lowes (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) had a tough Catalan GP with a few frustrations affecting his weekend, so motogp.com checked in with the former Moto2™ title challenger ahead of the Motul TT Assen to talk about what Lowes expects from the weekend, the challenge of a being a rookie with a developing bike and how the field has closed up in 2017.
First things first: next up is Assen. So how is Lowes feeling going into the weekend?
Sam Lowes: “I feel good. I really like Assen and it should suit my style a bit more than the last couple of tracks. Catalunya wasn’t great and we had some issues but that’s racing. I feel quite positive about everything and quite relaxed, I’ve had some time back at home to recharge the batteries. I believe a lot in myself and I know I can be successful in MotoGP. I just need to keep working and improving – not worry too much about other things and just enjoy the weekend. Then everything else will look after itself. I can definitely do a better job than I have at the last few races.”
The last few races have seen a few frustrations for the number 22 side of the Gresini garage, but Lowes is sure it will be on the up – and maintains the key is mileage:
SL22: “We’ve been a bit unlucky in some situations. For me it’s really important to get the laps and the mileage in and that’s something we need to address – it’s really important for me to gets laps under my belt more than anybody, really! But hopefully we can figure it out and this weekend everything can go a bit smoother. The team are working hard and developing many things so it’s normal to have a few issues, but it’s frustrating for a rider when it’s on a race weekend because you need the laps. If you miss a lot of time or a qualifying session, if you don’t get out it’s hard to keep the rhythm or get the same feeling as before. But I think this weekend we’ll be a bit more on top of the situation. I knew at the start of the year when we were developing that there could be some issues, but we’ve settled them for this weekend.”
Development is an extra challenge for a rookie and with so much to focus on throughout a weekend – tyres, pushing for Q2, setup, as well as settling into the premier class - it’s certainly a full program to get through:
SL22: “I think it’s hard when you’re riding a different bike all the time, and it’s difficult to find the feeling. So that makes it harder as a rookie, and it’s harder in MotoGP compared to in Moto2 but I expected that. And you need to get everything done in the first three sessions. In FP4 you want to be doing a long run but then if you’re still trying stuff it makes it a difficult, short day - because then it’s into qualifying and it’s time to go. And it’s tough when the weather or conditions change. Like in Catalunya in the morning and afternoon it’s so different.”
It certainly was, and that proved a challenge for many on the grid. The Championship top five is now the closest it’s ever been since the current points scoring system was introduced, and the winner last week can be off the podium the next – but that has its positives and negatives as the grid battle it out to define the order, with Lowes confident that some more results will show what he and Aprilia can do:
SL22: “I think this year it’s so tight in MotoGP and the whole class is a lot closer than it was last year. The Independent Hondas and Ducatis have made a good step. I think Aprilia are doing a good job, the potential is high and race pace has been strong in a lot of races. I hope Aleix can get some strong results in the next two GPs. That will be important for the team and to see where we’re at - if we can get some good results with Aleix and some good progress for me.”
That progress continues soon as it’s lights out for Assen on Friday and Lowes joins the 22 others on the grid pushing for glory, with MotoGP then racing at the slightly earlier time of 13:00 (GMT +2) on Sunday.
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