Motorcycling: Fast learner Lowes promises to end Byrne’s run of victories at Brands

The British Superbike champion is chasing a fourth title but has lost his speed advantage

Brands Hatch

Alex Lowes, at 22 the brightest young hope in the British Superbike Championship, refuses to be swayed by the mountain of statistics weighed against him when he confronts the  36-year-old reigning champion Shane Byrne here tomorrow.

Lowes has won only four BSB races to Byrne’s 48. The new boy has contested 63 BSB races, while Byrne benefits from a 229-race learning curve. On his 1000cc Kawasaki ZX10, Byrne is hoping to win his fourth BSB title this year, while Lowes, on a Honda Fireblade, has yet to earn his first.

But, with youth’s blazing optimism on his side, Lowes remains undaunted. “Shane is probably riding as well as he has ever done, and he’s got everything going for him,” said the lad from Lincoln. “He has this big target in his head about winning four titles, which no one has ever done. I’m not saying he’s now as good as he is going to get, but he’s going to be a little bit worried.”

Last year a late burst  towards the end of the season put Lowes in touching distance of the title going into the final round of three races at Brands Hatch. Unfortunately he crashed out of two and suffered a breakdown in the other. Byrne raced on to clinch the title, and has now won his last seven outings at the 2.4-mile Kent circuit.

“But I like Brands as well – it’s a track that suits me,” Lowes said. “I pushed him there last year until I crashed. I’ve beaten him at Snetterton and Oulton Park this year, so I can beat him at Brands as well.”

Lowes’s ambition is by no means fuelled by exuberance alone. “Last year I was with a privateer team. This year I’ve got a factory Honda,” he added. “It’s great with Honda. I was like a sponge at the beginning of this year in pre-season testing, trying to learn as much I can from them, from my team-mate, from the mechanics, from everyone.

“The biggest thing I am impressed with is how much they improve the bike from the information that I give them. There’s a noticeable improvement the next time I get back on the machine, and for a rider that’s a  fantastic feeling.”

Even the knowhow of experienced Samsung Honda team manager Havier Beltran and his technicians could not prevent Byrne’s Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki from enjoying a top-speed advantage in the early stages of this season. But Lowes takes a positive attitude on this, too.

“His bike is fastest on the straight, so you can’t pass him on the brakes,” Lowes said. “You just have to be more precise with your pass, and set it up a couple of corners beforehand.”

The fact that Byrne has won seven times this season and Lowe just twice does not mean too much in the overall championship at this stage. BSB rules are framed to give the spectator maximum entertainment, so after nine rounds the top six point-scorers are named Title Fighters, and in effect start from fresh over the final three “Showdown” rounds.

Purists may deplore this system – derived from American Nascar racing – but it allows a challenger such as Lowes to build experience and confidence through the season.

“It’s coming to the halfway point in the championship, so it’s important to keep the good results coming,” Lowes said. “I finished last year really strongly, and it gave me confidence over the winter. My whole aim was to get off to a good start this year, and that’s what we’ve achieved.”

Byrne’s crew chief, John Mowatt, said: “I think the others have caught us in top speed. It was evident to see at the last round at Snetterton. No one manufacturer is now able to pull out of the slipstream.” Now Lowes has a double opportunity tomorrow to  depose the master, reaching speeds of 170mph over two 18-lap contests on one of the world’s greatest racetracks.

Lowes factfile: Alex’s CV

Born 14 September, 1990, Lincoln

2002 Took up road-racing, finishing second in JRA Championship, aged only 11.

2005 Debut on British Superbikes circuit, running in the 125GP class.

2007 Rides for Honda CBR in British Supersport Championship.

2008 Rides for Kawasaki in Euro-pean Superstock Championship.

2010 Signs for Suzuki in British Superbikes. But the team folds before season. Rides various bikes instead.

2011 Rides for WFR Honda and Kawasaki.

2012 Rides for WFR Honda only. Finishes fourth in British Superbike Championship.

2013 Moves to Samsung Honda. Currently sits second overall.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine