Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How Lowes can you go?

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


How Lowes can you go?

Who is to blame for Sam Lowes’ MotoGP demise: the rider, Aprilia or someone else? Look behind the scenes and there’s an obvious answer few have noticed

Silverstone was a weird weekend for Sam Lowes: his first and possibly (but hopefully not) last British Grand Prix as a MotoGP rider.

Lowes’ unceremonious sacking during the preceding Austrian Grand Prix caused a minor furore in the paddock and asked some major questions.

Most obviously, what is a contract worth? That’s an easy one to answer: a contract is worth next to nothing if someone is prepared to buy themselves out of it, to some extent. Lowes wanted to continue his MotoGP learning process with Aprilia next year, but all he will receive will be his salary. No bikes. It’s a miserable deal, but that’s the way the world works.

Cal Crutchlow, a good friend of Sam’s, is typically forthright in his view of the situation. “I think it’s a disgrace, there’s no other way to put it,” says the LCR Honda rider. “What did they expect him to do in his first year in MotoGP on that package? It’s not a Yamaha! I look at my first year on a MotoGP bike [a Yamaha] and mine was probably even worse. They’ve treated him like crap. He’s not doing a bad job – you cannot imagine how many times he’s been sat in the garage during practice sessions with his bike not running.”

Not only has Lowes had to contend with below-par machinery, his dismissal sets a worrying precedent. It is important for MotoGP rookies on two-year deals to know that they’ve got the time to get up to speed, so they can focus on learning during their apprenticeship season, without the pressure of taking big risks to get results; then the following year they can start pushing harder for results. The sacking of Lowes means that other rookies coming into MotoGP will be concerned that the same fate may befall them, which means more pressure, which isn’t a good thing when you’ve got L-plates on your MotoGP bike.

Lowes has faced his dismissal with equanimity and good humour. During a busy media debrief he accidentally knocked a journalist’s voice recorder to the ground. “Sorry, I’ll buy you a new one,” he grinned. “Though I haven’t had many bonuses this year…”

Of course, there is always more than one side to a story, so what might be the other sides to the Lowes/Aprilia saga?

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Total votes: 17
Total votes: 17

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Comments

This is a sorry tale. I put all this squarely at the feet of Aprilia. Clearly they had no vision and no plan. They made a grab for whatever talent they could find and hoped like hell he would turn out to be another Marquez or Vinales. Sam is a talented rider but it is clear that unless you are a Marc Marquez or Casey Stoner, (or on a Yamaha) you are not going to step into MotoGP and and push your way into the top ten straight away. But it seems this is what Aprilia were wanting. After all Stefan Bradl and Aleix Espagaro were both consistently pushing into top ten pace on the bike - albeit with a year or two of MotoGP experience under their belts.

Sam was/is struggling. He has so much to learn and it is clear that he has not enjoyed the full support of his team. Where was the plan? What was expected of him? Was it realistic? It looks for all the world as if Aprilia were/are running on a hope and a prayer with no clearly defined plan on developing the bike and the rider.

If I was Scott Redding, I would be very concerned about my future - even with a contract for a factory ride. There is a big question mark over Aprilia and their management. I hope Scott has a plan 'B'.

Total votes: 12

I like Sam---he's a very talented rider with the right bike and the right crew to help him set the bike up---I don't think he has the right crew or right bike at this time---if he stepped into something like a satellite Yamaha, he might have done a lot better---see Zarco and Folger---two really good bikes and a really good crew---sorted bikes, not bikes that are being developed at the races instead of at the test track first… Oh well, back to MOTO2 for Sam...

Total votes: 7

Dear oh dear, back to MOTO2 for Sam. At least it is a good Moto2 team. Sam will have a much better chance of enjoying the sweet taste of victory in the middle class. Good luck to him. At the age of 27 Sam has some time left before the end of his racing career.

Total votes: 2