Aprilia rider Sam Lowes insists he isn’t concerned by the rapid pre-season testing pace shown by his fellow MotoGP rookies.
The British rider is one of four riders stepping up to the premier class this season from Moto2, along with Suzuki’s Alex Rins and Tech 3 Yamaha duo Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger.
During the most recent winter test at Phillip Island, Folger was particularly impressive, ending up with the fourth-quickest time, while Rins was sixth.
Lowes by contrast was the slowest rider of the test, albeit still using the 2016 version of Aprilia’s RS-GP for the bulk of the week while teammate Aleix Espargaro worked on refining the 2017 bike.
The former World Supersport champion insists his place on the timesheets is a result of the development programme he has been doing, and says the time to push for laptimes will come later.
Asked if the speed shown by the other rookies was making him worried, Lowes said: “In races six, seven, eight – if there was a big gap at this point, I’d be under pressure. But now, not really.
“The biggest mistake I’ve made in the past is to look too much at the laptime in testing. I’ve learnt a lot from this, and the work we have made is different to the work they are making.
“At Tech 3, for example, they have the bike from Yamaha already there. I’ve still not ridden the bike I’ll race in Qatar, because we’ve tested many things. If I was just making laps, for sure I’d be a lot faster, but that’s not been the case.”
“For sure the time is coming when I can push more, but for now I have to be calm and ride at 80 percent to understand everything.”
Lowes contrasted the work he has been doing with Aprilia with what he used to do in Moto2 pre-season testing, when being immediately on the pace was more paramount.
“In Moto2, you have to be fast, because there’s nothing to test, really,” he added. “[But in MotoGP] it’s important to understand the bike and the direction.
“Now we have to make the right decision for six months’ time, and if we make the wrong decision now we will suffer in the middle of the year.”
The 26-year-old also revealed he has been working with a mental coach since the winter in a bid to better prepare himself for the step up from Moto2 to MotoGP.
“This winter I started working with a guy from Chile, and he works on the science of the brain; the focus, the attention and the reactions,” said Lowes.
“This is something we’re working on now and it’s quite nice.”
Additional reporting by Francesco Corghi