After several seasons in Moto2™ where they fought for the title, Sam Lowes and Marc VDS Racing opted to continue their partnership in WorldSBK
One of the most exciting bits of news – among lots of excitement – heading into the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship was the arrival of a new team and rider onto the grid. Sam Lowes, the 2013 WorldSSP Champion, is heading into a new adventure with his Elf Marc VDS Racing Team for 2024 as both team and rider stepped across from Moto2™. Lining up with a Panigale V4 R, both Lowes and the outfit will be aiming to keep their successful partnership going.
THE HISTORY OF THE PARTNERSHIP: four seasons, seven wins and a title challenge
Sam Lowes joined the team for the 2020 season, and it proved to be a successful combination from the start. Three wins, coming consecutively at the French, Aragon, and Teruel Grands Prix, hauled the Brit into title contention but he fell just short, finishing behind Enea Bastianini and Luca Marini. Nine points separated the three riders in a dramatic title fight. A year later and Lowes once again recorded three wins, finishing fourth in the title race behind now-WorldSBK rival Remy Gardner, Raul Fernandez, and Marco Bezzecchi.
2022 was an injury-hit campaign for the Brit, but he was still able to take two rostrums despite competing in only 12 races. He finished 19th in the standings but it was obvious he was way out of position, and he was back to winning ways in 2023. Victory at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto was the highlight of last year, but he ensured he ended his Moto2™ career with a winning season despite claiming 12th in the classification.
A NEW ADVENTURE: same team, same rider… new everything else
While the rider and the team’s name stay the same, their partnership continues into WorldSBK (the team are also still in Moto2™). Agreeing a deal with Ducati to run the Panigale V4 R this year, Lowes has been adapting to Superbike machinery ever since his last Moto2™ race with tests at Jerez and the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve before the first round in Australia. Lowes has to adapt to the bike but also the tyres, having used a different brand compared to the Pirellis he’ll use this year. There’s also the race format – three races in a weekend, with two on a Sunday. It’s a lot for a rookie to adjust to but, with loads of experience already secured, Lowes will embrace the challenge.
HOW’S TESTING GOING? Lots to do, learning quickly…
At the Jerez test in January 2024, Lowes was seventh on Day 2 after posting a 1’38.852s and completing a mammoth 91 laps. A few days later, having travelled west across the Iberian Peninsula to Portimao, Lowes was 11th on Day 2 with a 1’40.280s and 76 laps recorded. He did have a crash in Portugal on Day 1, something he described as a “Sam needs to learn WorldSBK crash”, but he was still able to show his pace and potential. Testing is all about learning and adapting as a rookie and that’s exactly what Lowes has been doing as he wracks up the miles on his V4 R.
LOWES’ VIEW: “we’ve got a lovely group of people… we can be excited”
“I’m definitely excited and it feels good to be back”, began Lowes when asked about his return to the paddock. “My Grand Prix career was nice but I’m really happy and proud to be here. WorldSBK has always been mega and strong, and I think now is arguably as strong as it’s been in 10 years. The depth of field is amazing, even to be in the top ten is difficult. I’ve got a lot to learn. The Ducati’s a beautiful bike, obviously quite complicated, but very good and beautiful. The format of the weekend, three races, Superpole, the Q tyre, it’s something I’ve never used in my life. We’ve got a lovely group of people and mechanics and I’m really appreciative of that. I think, when you do that together, we can be excited.”
A NEW ERA BEGINS: follow Sam Lowes’ rookie season in style using the WorldSBK VideoPass!