Alex takes 4th in thrilling season opener at Phillip Island
In a thrilling first FIM Superbike World Championship race at Phillip Island in Australia, Alex Lowes secured a spirited fourth place and his new team-mate Michael van der Mark ninth, earning good points and setting themselves up well for the second race of the weekend on Sunday 26th.
After qualifying fifth on the grid in Superpole in a time better than the circuits previous outright fastest lap – Alex used his 2017 Yamaha YZF-R1 to good effect in race one, fighting in the leading group throughout and crossing the line in a photo-finish for third place, only three-hundreths of a second from former World Champion Tom Sykes.
More impressively, Lowes was also only 1.082 seconds from the winner after 22-laps of sometimes close and furious action, leading the whole field on lap 11 as he tried to up the pace and break up what was a combative leading group of riders.
Under the new championship rules, Alex’s fourth place puts him on pole for Sundays 22-lap contest, a position he hopes to exploit to the full in the early laps.
”I felt quite comfortable today and the race simulations that I have done allowed me to relax a bit more in the race itself. I had been on a decent pace in the race runs and knew what to expect from the tyres and the bike. I managed to keep my speed to the end and I was a bit surprised that they were messing around a bit at the front! At one stage there were too many guys in the front group and everyone was a bit close – I did not feel very comfortable with that so I tried to push on a bit and stretch it out. It worked out quite well for me. The lads in the team and all at Yamaha have done a great job with the bike. Unfortunately I made a bit of mistake near the end and it dropped me back from the first three, I was able to pull them back in the last three laps but fourth place is still good. It is easy after the race to say that I could have done a bit better but my goal was top five in the races here, and then build during the year to close the gap. But we were in the race for the podium, and I just enjoyed being able to fight with the guys.”