New Kawasaki Racing Team rider Alex Lowes finished an often-dramatic 22-lap opening WorldSBK race at Phillip Island in a battling second place, missing out on a win by just a slender 0.007 seconds. After a lap one collision with another rider KRT rider Jonathan Rea was forced off track on lap one and in his subsequent efforts to pass riders he was to fall at high speed and no score.
After qualifying in eighth place in Superpole Lowes ran seventh in the early laps but passed first Leon Haslam and then early leader Tom Sykes to go fourth – then suddenly lose a place on lap 16.
He clawed his way back into contention after a tangle with Leon Haslam and in a remarkable last five laps the leading positions were contested with full commitment. Lowes felt confident of a final lap challenge for the win on the Ninja ZX-10RR.
Lowes worked his way up to third and then pounced on the final few corners to make up the five bike lengths that eventual race winner Razgatlioglu had in hand entering the final few fast curves.
Starting from the front row of the grid on his Ninja ZX-10RR machine, having qualified third in Superpole, Rea was in the lead for the first few corners until Sykes moved up inside him at speed in turn eight. They touched and Rea was forced to lift his bike up and run off track going into turn nine.
Regaining the asphalt in last place he made up several places with class leading pace before he fell while attempting to pass another rider around the outside of turn eight on lap six.
After such a dramatic opening race of the year – with the top four riders covered by just 0.137 seconds – Rea and Lowes will now face one ten lap Superpole race and then a second full 22-lap Race Two on Sunday 1 March.
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “My first race green machine and I had been a little bit slow at the beginning of the week in the tests, struggling to feel really comfortable. But every day every session has got better and I have been calm and patient. That was the story of that race. I felt I had a little bit more tyre at the end than the other guys to race them but what a fantastic race to be part of. I hope all the fans enjoyed it. I had a smile on my face the whole way and hopefully tomorrow there are two races just as close and we can keep it going. Really enjoyed it, great racing, and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I am just so frustrated because after what happened in the first lap, being put back there. I felt I was making good ground. I felt great with the bike and I was coming up on Rinaldi and setting him up for a pass. I went really wide at the Hayshed as he opened up and started losing the front on the bumps. I am relatively OK, aside from being under the bike for a while so I burned some of my leg. Frustrating to start the year like that but there are a lot of battles left and we have tomorrow. The good thing is that I felt good with the bike. The sprint race will be flat to the mat for ten laps. I am sure I can be in that leading battle and keep my powder dry for that last lap.”