Alex Lowes

2018 Brno WorldSBK Subscriber Special: Teammate Games Force Czech mate

Internal team rivalries played out in Brno with very different results

“I was going to make it...or I wasn't,” was how King Kenny Roberts summed up one of his Grand Prix victories in the late seventies. The triple 500GP world champion knew the importance of momentum and psychology on a race track better than anyone, and knew that at times, riders need to take a win it or bin it mentality.

That mentality was at the front everyone's minds as they watched last weekend's Czech WorldSBK round, where the importance of coming out on top of an internal team battle bubbled under the surface. On Saturday Jonathan Rea claimed his 60th career victory, but on Sunday the tensions of four years at Kawasaki overflowed.

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2018 Brno WorldSBK Notes: Feuding Kawasakis, Parity At Yamaha, Potential From Aprilia

The return of WorldSBK to the Czech Republic proved to be a race weekend to remember. Tensions between Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes overflowed, Alex Lowes delivered on his long held promise and we saw flashes of promise from elsewhere on the WorldSBK grid.

Kawasaki tensions overflow

That Rea and Sykes don't like each other has been clear since the start of their tenure as teammates. The 2013 world champion had been the center of attention at KRT for years and Sykes had developed the ZX10R into the best package on the grid. It allowed him to win races and become a consistent force at the front of the field. Since Rea joined in 2015, however, his power has been eroded within the team and his potential on track has been limited. Their dislike for one another has been clear to see for years but on Sunday it boiled over.

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Two-Day Private WorldSBK Test Concludes At Brno

A few days after a couple of entertaining races at Assen, a part of the WorldSBK paddock was back in action, this time at a private two-day test at the Brno circuit, which is set to return to the World Superbike calendar after an absence of five years. The weather was not entirely cooperative - a warm Wednesday was followed by a much cooler and overcast Thursday - but the teams present all managed to get important work done. 

At the test were the factory Aruba.it Ducati team, along with Barni Racing's Xavi Fores. The official Yamaha WorldSBK and WorldSSP teams were there, as was Randy Krummenacher on the Bardahl Even Bros Yamaha R6. The official KRT Kawasakis were also present, as was Triple M Racing's PJ Jacobsen on the Honda CBR1000RR. The Red Bull Honda WorldSBK team were not in Brno, having already had two days of private testing in Assen before the Aragon round.

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2018 Assen WorldSBK Recap: It's All Double Dutch In WorldSBK

Making predictions for races in WorldSBK 2018 can be a fool's errand. The form book has been thrown out the window on a couple of occasions and that was certainly the case once again at the Assen TT Circuit.

The Magic is still there

Michael van der Mark may no longer go by the moniker of Magic Michael but there was definitely magic in the air at Assen. The Dutch star claimed a double podium at his home round and showed once again that he is a force to be reckoned with. Pressuring Jonathan Rea and beating Chaz Davies in a straight up fight in Race 1 was impressive, but his Race 2 performance shouldn't be underestimated. The pressure was on the 25 year old. A bumper crowd of over 62,000 turned up to cheer him on and VDM didn't disappoint.

His third place finish on Sunday was another example of being able to keep a cool head. Tom Sykes was clear from the field and for Van der Mark the goal became to stand on the rostrum. That meant beating the Ducatis of Xavi Fores and Chaz Davies. The Yamaha rider duly delivered and moved into fourth in the championship standings. Mission accomplished.

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A Lap Of Assen With Alex Lowes

Assen is a circuit unlike any other. The rich history of the Assen TT Circuit goes back almost 100 years and with over 50 WorldSBK to its name only Phillip Island has seen more Superbike track action although arguably no circuit has seen more exciting action than Assen.

Whether it's Carl Fogarty or Jonathan Rea, the heroes of WorldSBK love Assen to a rider. It's fast and flowing and is a circuit that can be ridden any number of ways. There is no ideal way to lap the 4.542km circuit but there are some secrets to unlocking the speed. Pata Yamaha's Alex Lowes sat down with MotoMatters.com to offer his insight.

“You come across the start finish straight in fifth gear and as you approach Turn 1 it's tighter than you'd think,” explained Lowes. “The apex is slightly blind because the track drops away ever so slightly so you aim for a point and with experience you learn that it's that little bit tighter than expected. You're in second gear through the first corner so you'll short shift into third for Turn 2, but this is a section where the bike is always sliding and if you're not careful at the start of the race to manage this you'll pay for it at the end of the race with tire degradation.

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Alex Lowes Interview: Eager To Prove His Potential

Alex Lowes feels that he's at his best when blood is in the water and he's fighting at the front. Winning in WorldSBK appears to be just around the corner for the Englishman

Alex Lowes at Jerez on the Pata Yamaha

Potential energy is the energy possessed by an object due to the factors surrounding it. For any motorcycle racer the biggest factor around them is their bike, and since moving to WorldSBK in 2014, Alex Lowes has been held back by the machinery at his disposal. Now, though, he's confident that a change in fortunes is just around the corner.

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The Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team: Great Expectations?

Year three of Yamaha's return to WorldSBK will see the team expected to produce race wins, but are they ready to deliver?

For Alex Lowes and the Yamaha WorldSBK squad the goal is clear in 2018; to win races. Since joining the Crescent team in 2014 Lowes has been able to grow into a front running WorldSBK rider, but hasn't quite made the step to winning races. The package underneath him has rarely been one capable of delivering victories, but the progress of Yamaha last year offers hope that finally the illusive first win is possible.

“The second half of 2017 was quite good and we were able to challenge for the podium in most races,” said Lowes. “We're still a little bit behind Kawasaki and Ducati and I'm not really starting the year with any expectations other than to get the best we can at every round. The chassis is working really well but we need to keep working on the electronics of the bike. The plan is that we'll go to Phillip Island with an older electronic specification and then try to change the electronics for Thailand where we'll have some extra technical support and staff from Japan.

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Crunching The Numbers: Jonathan Rea vs MotoGP vs WorldSBK - An Analysis

The start of December marks the beginning of what is rapidly becoming a tradition in the world of motorcycle racing. After the Jerez test in late November, it is now "Why Is Jonathan Rea Faster Than A MotoGP Bike" season. At Jerez, Rea pushed his Kawasaki ZX-10R WorldSBK machine – down 35+ bhp and up 10+ kg – to the fourth fastest overall time of the week, ahead of eleven MotoGP regulars (including two rookies), three MotoGP test riders and Alex Márquez, who the Marc VDS team were using to train up the new crew recruited to look after Tom Luthi's side of the garage while the Swiss rider is still injured.

How is this possible? And what does this mean? Are WorldSBK machines too close to MotoGP bikes? Why are MotoGP manufacturers spending ten times as much to be shown up at a test by Jonathan Rea? And why, for the sake of all that is holy, does Jonathan Rea not have a MotoGP ride?

The answer to all but the last of those questions is buried away in the bigger picture of the laps posted throughout the week. When you examine the numbers, the picture is a lot more complex than the headline times seem to suggest. Tires, temperature, and track all play a part. But all of that can't disguise a rather outsize dose of talent.

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