Sam Lowes explains how a WorldSBK rookie adapts to SCQ tyre that "transforms" the bike

Friday, 26 January 2024 06:25 GMT

The Brit was able to try the SCQ tyre for the first time at Jerez and revealed the impacts it had on his bike

After a small amount of testing back in December, rookie Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) was back on track in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship as he met up with the paddock at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto. During the two-day test, the Brit continued adapting to his Panigale V4 R machine as well as getting his hands on Pirelli’s SCQ tyre, the first time Lowes has used a qualifying tyre throughout his career.

PROGRESS MADE: “I think it’s normal for me to be making big steps all the time…”

The main focus for both Lowes and the VDS Ducati outfit would’ve been to adapt to WorldSBK machinery with both rider and team new to the Championship in 2024 although, as a pairing, have a long history of success in Moto2™. Lowes, who will run the #14 in WorldSBK, expanded on where he felt he was making progress especially compared to Wednesday’s action, specifically mentioning how he found time under braking.

Reviewing the second day of testing, Lowes said: “Definitely getting closer to a WorldSBK style! I still need to improve in some areas, but it was a really positive day; we made a lot of steps. We tried a lot of things with the bike, small details just to make me feel more comfortable and adapt to my riding style. Really happy with the consistent pace and it was a good first two days. I think a little bit was me, improving under braking. On Day 1, I wasn’t braking too well, and I was leaning the bike too much. On Thursday, I was really focusing on the exits and managed to make a step forward. I think it’s normal for me to be making big steps all the time because it’s all new. It feels like my bike after two days.”

THE SCQ CONUNDRUM: how does a rookie adapt and how does it impact the bike?

Official Tyre Supplier Pirelli have been making strides with tyre development throughout their team in WorldSBK, with one of the latest innovations the SCQ tyre. First introduced in 2022, it’s designed to be used in the Tissot Superpole sessions and 10-lap Tissot Superpole Races, offering balance between outright performance and longevity for the shorter races. This presents a new challenge for Lowes who hadn’t used a tyre like this during his career so far and he spoke about the impact it has after trying it at Jerez.

Discussing his SCQ tyre run, the 2013 WorldSSP Champion said: “Honestly, I messed it up the first two laps! I’d never used one before, so I was quite excited in some ways. I managed to do a 1’38s on my third lap, so it was positive. I think, if I could’ve had another go, I would’ve been able to improve a little bit more. It’s not that important now but look at how close the Championship is and the level, Superpole is going to be important for everyone. It is important we try, we have more to use in Portugal, so I’ll try a bit more.

“It was different to how I thought! You sort of improve a little bit everywhere. On the run before, I used a new tyre with the SCX and did quite a decent run. I thought, ‘how am I going to quicker than that?’, but you just have a bit more grip everywhere. You have to anticipate the corner, use the grip through and out to make the lap time. The bike always feels better when it has grip, that’s the biggest thing. The better you can get the tyre working, the faster you go. I need a bit more time to understand it because it transforms the bike, sticking to the track let’s say.”

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