“In 2021 I will wake up every day thinking about becoming World Champion”
It’s fair to say that Sam Lowes enjoyed the best Moto2 campaign of his career in 2020. Seven podiums and three victories meant the British rider emerged as a serious title contender and he eventually finish third in the World Championship at the end of a memorable first season with the Belgian squad.
It was a magnificent season for Lowes, who overcame two big injuries with an incredible fighting spirit to finish only nine-points behind World Champion Enea Bastianini. In this special interview, the 30-year-old reflects on his success in 2020.
How would you describe the 2020 season?
“I would say it has been successful. If I was told at the beginning of the year that I would win again, that I would lead as many sessions as I did and finish third in the Championship despite two injuries, I would have signed for that without a doubt. Obviously, when you get to the last race with a chance to win and you don’t, it’s a bit disappointing. But overall, I would say it has been a very good season.”
What have you learned?
“This year I tried to work and improve in many aspects. I have learned a lot in the box in terms of working well with the technicians to prepare the bike in a very productive way. Due to the global pandemic, we had to live and compete in a different way. Several times we had three races in a row for which I had to manage my physical training. But the most important thing is I learned to have fun on the bike again. I have enjoyed this year and I have improved my riding.”
Had you stopped having fun?
“This year has been one of enjoyment, while the last few years have been one of suffering. I always have a good time on the bike, but sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t enjoy it like I did this year. Everything flowed and I had fun.”
If you could change anything this season, what would it be?
“The fall in FP3 of the Valencia Grand Prix. I fell because I was pushing too much in a sector of the track where I was already very fast. What could have been a small fall ended up having important consequences for the end of the Championship because it meant I had to ride the last two races with the injured hand and another 10-points would have won me the title. I don’t know if the final result would have changed or not, but I think I can learn from what happened. But if I could rewind, I would approach that FP3 differently.”
And something you wouldn’t change?
“The way I approached the season. How I came into the box always relaxed, how I worked and grew with the team, working on my mental state, planning the weekend and managing the sessions. I am very happy with my attitude throughout the year and I think it has been something that has helped me a lot and I will certainly repeat it next year.”
How would you describe that attitude?
It’s not easy to put it into words. I was more relaxed and more focused on each individual day. But you can’t have this attitude if you don’t go fast or you’re not happy with the bike. I felt comfortable in all aspects and that allowed me to trust and relax and give my all on the track.”
You completed a great season and your performance in the last race in Portimao was amazing considering the pain from the hand injury, so how did you approach it?
“The truth is that having completed so few laps over the weekend because of the pain in my right hand, we had very little information about my pace and the real possibilities of competing in the race. I barely did a couple of laps in the Warm Up because of the pain, and although I knew I was saving something for the race, I was not clear about what I could fight for. I think this is one of the moments in my career that I am most proud of because I achieved something that I didn’t think I could do. To come back and finish on the podium was way more than I expected from myself. We ended up losing the Championship, but I was surprised to see myself fighting like that and it is an incredible feeling that I am very satisfied with.”
Elite sportsmen and women talk about being in the zone at particular moments in their career, would you say Portimao was one of those moments for you?
“It is difficult to go back to that moment and describe the exact sensations, but I would say that I was so concentrated trying to make a perfect ride, that for a while I forgot absolutely everything else. I managed to reach maximum awareness in that moment, which is something I have been working on with my mind coach. Then the pain, the situation and the fight for the Championship reappeared, but it was very stimulating to reach that level of concentration because if you achieve it once, you can do it more times and that gives me great confidence and motivation to continue in this line of work.”
How will you use this year’s success in the future?
“The performance and results of this season encourage me to want to work even harder and keep improving for the next one. I am very motivated and feel comfortable saying that next year I want to win the World Championship. If I said the same at this time last year, I am sure that 95% of the people would have said ‘of course, he wants to win it as all the riders want that’. But now I say it fully convinced that I can achieve it.”
Do you think you have proven a lot of people wrong with your results this year?
“I think so yes. I think people doubted when I signed for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS because they didn’t feel it was justified by my previous results, but I have always believed in myself and in my possibilities. I have won in the past and I knew I could do it again. I was given a good opportunity, but I took full advantage of that. The bike was fantastic, I was on a World Championship-winning team and surrounded by great people. It was a challenge for me because in this team there is no room for excuses if things don’t go well. I gave everything and it was great to be able to do it while getting good results.”
How will you face 2021 and what is the primary target?
“My goal for 2021 is to win the Moto2 World Championship. This year my goal was to be competitive again and to win races. I didn’t seriously consider fighting for the World Championship until I was fully immersed in the battle. Last winter I woke up every day thinking about being fast again. In 2021, I will do it thinking about becoming World Champion. I think that is a realistic and feasible goal. I may not achieve it, but I think it is right for me to face the season with this mentality. It’s time to think about it, improve some things and fight for it.”
What things do you need to improve?
“I have to choose my battles a little better. Like I said before FP3 in Valencia, I knew I had the pace, so maybe I could have been more relaxed in that situation. I will focus all my efforts on the races because that is the most important part of the weekend. I also have to keep working on my riding, especially improving back-shifting to help with corner entry.”
Best race: GP of Teruel.
“I won the race with a big margin after completing a great weekend and without taking profit from someone else’s mistake as I did in the French GP and the Aragon GP. It was my best ride of the year.”
Best overtake: “I would say my overtake on Remy Gardner in Turn 1 in Portimao. During the whole weekend it was my worst part of the track because of the hand injury, so I was happy with that one.”
Best moment: “The moment when I thought I could fight for the World Championship after finishing second in Barcelona. It has been a difficult track for me in the past and I nearly won.”
A goal fulfilled: To be competitive again.
A goal to be fulfilled: To be World Champion.
Personal score: 8/10
“I think I have achieved good results with several poles, seven podiums, I won again, and I could fight for the title until the end. The injury in pre-season and the fall with injury in Valencia were the low points, so I think an eight is a pretty fair score.”