Third and fourth in Race 2 for Rea and Lowes was met with differing emotions for various reasons after a dramatic race in Argentina
One of the key moments in Race 2 of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship visit to the Circuito San Juan Villicum came was the battle for third place between Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK teammates Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes. After dropping down the order, Rea was fighting his way up the field while Lowes was aiming to take his third podium of the season but it was six-time Champion Rea who came out on top in this battle during the Motul Argentinean Round.
Rea dropped down from the podium places in the early stages of the race after running wide on two occasions, first dropping behind teammates Lowes and then, shortly after, falling behind Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). He was able to get by both Vierge and Rinaldi relatively quickly but was behind Lowes for around 11 laps before eventually making the pass on Lap 18 at Turn 8, using Lowes’ slipstream down the main straight before overtaking into the left-hand corner of Turn 8.
Reflecting on a challenging Race 2, Rea said: “Just disappointed because my bike in the Superpole Race was incredible. I had good traction, and everything was working, but from the get-go in Race 2 I had nothing. As soon as I turned into Turn 2, I felt ‘why is the bike not hooking up?’. I was fighting, a real passenger for most of the race. We need to analyse exactly what happened. It was strange. A different bike to what I had. It was a battle with my teammate, Alex. In the beginning with Vierge and Rinaldi so it was about grinding those guys down, letting the tyres move around a little bit. Honestly, Alex’s pace was fast. He just kept going and going and going. There was a point where I thought fourth was my best but I never gave up. It’s important points for us. Not the way I wanted to finish. I would’ve liked to have been a bit closer to that lead battle.”
Lowes’ weekend had been compromised after taking ninth in Saturday’s Tissot Superpole session despite believing he had the pace for more, after a late yellow flag for Loris Baz’s (Bonovo Action BMW) crash prevented Lowes from setting a final lap time to move him up the order. Despite starting ninth in Race 1 and the Superpole Race, he battled for sixth in Race 1 and fifth in the Tissot Superpole Race. This gave him a second row start for Race 2 and a lightning start meant he was immediately in the podium hunt, especially after he took advantage of Rea running wide on Lap 2. He held on to third place for the majority of the race but was passed by his teammate with a few laps to go.
Reflecting on a rollercoaster weekend, Lowes said: “I was happy with the weekend. I think my pace was fourth this weekend. I was not quite as fast as the first three, but it looked like, in the practices, I was a little bit quicker than the guys behind. Superpole was a shame with the yellow flags. I’m not annoyed at myself, just sometimes it can happen and not quite fall right. We know how close it is in WorldSBK and if you can’t get that lap in, it’s easy to be ninth. The straight isn’t the strongest point of our bike so when you’re ninth or in the mix of that second group, trying to battle at the start of races is quite tough. Race 1 was tough, I was happy with sixth, and it steadily got better as the weekend went on. Shame not to be able to get on the podium. I felt quite good at the end of the race but the SCX rear tyre just dropped and I had a lot of chatter in the end. I couldn’t keep Jonathan behind, but we’ll try again in Indonesia.”
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