Second Phillip Island race sees Alex closer to the win
The second FIM Superbike World Championship race of the opening round at Phillip Island saw Alex Lowes once again fourth at the flag, but this time even closer to the winner – only 0.9 of a second – after 22 intense laps.
The 4.445km long Phillip Island circuit always delivers close and combative WorldSBK action and the second race of the weekend was every bit as closely fought as the first on Saturday. The new championship Race 2 grid regulations meant that Lowes’s fourth place in race one made him the pole position man in race two, and he duly led the race after the opening lap.
Lowes’ race one performance had been a boost for his confidence as he starts his second season as an official Yamaha rider, but today he maintained a podium position approaching the final lap, challenged for the win and just came up short on the final few corners.
Alex was less than a second behind the race winner today and leaves the Australian circuit with 26 championship points, tied for equal third in the official standings – and satisfied with his progression as a World Superbike contender and with the clear improvements in his Pata Yamaha YZF-R1.
“I felt that I had a good opportunity to get on the podium but when I attacked on the last lap I just struggled more than I expected. Halfway through the race I made a plan to look after the bike and tyre, then pushed back into a 1’31.7 pace near the end, so that took me back to the leading group. The bike was working really well but I was just not fast enough on the second half of the track, and I was not aggressive enough there. That is what cost us a podium, so it’s something I have to work on for next year at this track.
Apart from that I felt really strong and I was competitive for 44 race laps this weekend. I know the guys have done a fantastic job just improving the R1 in lots of areas. We can be happy with being equal third in the points, it’s a good start to the year, and something we can build on as a team. I think I have performed in a better way, not just riding two good races, but in how I have approached the weekend, how I conducted myself, how the team has worked together – I think we have all made a better job and that we have a good base to work from.”