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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas