A week after getting his first taste of a MotoGP bike, Alex Lowes has learned he will spend two full weekends on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha machine, replacing Bradley Smith.
Smith injured himself when he crashed heavily during practice for the final round of the FIM Endurance World Championship. The Englishman had been drafted in to boister the YART Yamaha team, in response to a request by friend and former World Supersport racer Broc Parkes.
The aim was to help YART win the FIM EWC title, but Smith's assistance ended before the race had even begun. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider collided with another rider, suffering a very deep cut to his leg and damage to his knee. Fears of a broken femur proved unfounded, fortunately.
Smith's injury means he will miss both Silverstone and Misano. Alex Lowes was the obvious replacement for Smith, with rumors emerging that the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider would fill in for Smith over the weekend. Lowes has strong Monster backing, meaning no sponsor clash, and rides for Yamaha in the World Superbike championship.
Lowes is in Yamaha's good books for helping Pol Espargaro and Katsuyuki Nakasuga clinch their second successive Suzuka 8 Hours title in July. After that race, Espargaro spoke very highly of Alex Lowes, praising his speed and talent. The two things combined earned Lowes a spin on the Tech 3 bike during the MotoGP test at Brno on Monday.
That test did not go entirely to plan. The Pata Yamaha rider put in 15 laps, posting a best time of 1:59.558, just over four seconds off Jorge Lorenzo's fastest lap. His test came to an early end when he crashed the Tech 3 bike at Turn 3, losing the front and sliding into the gravel. The damage to both bike and rider was minimal, Lowes returning shamefaced to the Tech 3 pits shortly before the Yamaha M1 arrived. Lowes apologized repeatedly to the team for the damage to the bike.
The crash had come because Lowes felt he need to try to push the bike to try and understand it better. "The carbon brakes are a bit more grabby," he explained. "It was my last couple of laps of the day and I tried to push a bit much without understanding everything; tried to brake a bit more, lifted the rear a bit and when a bit wide. The track was a bit dirty and I just lost the front a little bit."
"I never know if I'll have another opportunity to ride the bike so I wanted to try and understand everything," Lowes said. That chance will come sooner than Lowes will have dared to hope. He will throw his leg over the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha again on Friday morning, during free practice at Silverstone.
Below is the Tech 3 press release announcing Smith's absence and Lowes' role as his replacement:
Injured Smith out for the back to back races Alex Lowes to replace him
Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Bradley Smith will unfortunately miss his home Grand Prix at Silverstone as well as the San Marino Grand Prix following a crash in the Oschersleben 8 Hours practice session last week which caused ligament damage to his right knee. As a result, the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team announces that Pata Yamaha Official World Superbike Team rider Alex Lowes will fill in for Smith at both races, having recently sampled the Tech3 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bike for the first time at the post-Czech GP test. The talented 25-year-old from Lincoln in England is currently in his third full season in the World Superbike series, where he has achieved three podium finishes. Lowes was also part of the 2016 Yamaha Factory Racing Team, which dominated the Suzuka 8 Hour event. The Tech3 team wants to thank Paul Denning and the Pata Yamaha Official World Superbike Team for their cooperation in allowing Lowes to ride and would also like to wish Bradley Smith a quick and full recovery.