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20 April 2024

Lowes Fifth In Red Flagged Opening Race

A wet and then drying track surface for WorldSBK Race One at Assen saw the top riders swapping track condition with great frequency until a red flag due to an oil spill stopped the race after just over 14-laps had been completed.

Alex Lowes had been in a podium place at one stage but ended a shortened race in fifth position when the red flag was thrown. Axel Bassani had been as high up as second in the early laps, running behind runaway race winner Nicholas Spinelli. The first time WorldSBK rider was running Intermediate tyres front and rear, letting him make the most of the wet early laps as all other riders had at least one slick tyre fitted to suit the drying track conditions.

In the wet Superpole qualifying session on Saturday morning Lowes was in fifth place at the end of yet another wet track session, putting him on a second row starting place. Bassani, who had been one of the leading riders for a time when the track was most affected by the wet conditions, finally qualified 16th in Superpole.

With rain falling at the end of the previous WorldSSP300 race on Saturday afternoon the track proved wet at the start of the first WorldSBK race of the third round. Most, like Alex and Axel, opted for dry weather solutions of some kind, despite the first sector of the track being wetter than the rest.  

Had the race gone the full planned race distance dry tyres would have definitely been the correct option for all riders, with the leading competitors closing in on long-time race leader Spinelli at great speed just before the race had to be cut short. 

Lowes finished fifth overall and was second inside his personal four-rider mini-battle when the red flag stopped the action - just after the required 2/3rd race distance had been completed.

Bassani’s strong ride for all 14 laps put him in ninth place, despite finding some issues as the track dried out toward the end. His ninth place delivered him his best race finish of the season so far.

Sunday at Assen will see a ten-lap Superpole Race and then a 21-lap Race Two finish off the WorldSBK action at round three, before a long eight week break in action until the fourth round at Misano in Italy.

Alex Lowes, stated: “A race like that, where you can easily lose too much, meant I was definitely too cautious on the wet part of the track. I was trying to hold my position early on but I didn’t realise that Spinelli was so fast at the start. I thought I was battling for the lead with Alvaro Bautista at one time but someone else was miles in front! I am quite happy really as the only place I was losing time was in the first few corners. At the end the rest of the track was pretty much dry and we learned a lot with the bike. I felt quite strong. If the race had gone to 21 laps I think there would have been a fight for a podium until the end, as Spinelli was going backwards on his tyre choice as the track dried out. It has been a tough weekend again so far, with changeable track conditions in every session. I’m happy. It’s easy to take a gamble and look a hero in a race like that, but it’s also easy to come away with nothing. A solid enough race.”

Axel Bassani, stated: “I took some risks to try to recover some positions, because the conditions were difficult for everyone. I liked the wet conditions at the start but after, when it started to dry out, our issues came back. It was then difficult to stay with the other riders and try to enjoy racing with them. Now we need to understand what is happening because it is difficult. But, this is only the third round of the year and the level is amazing this season. The feeling was good to fight inside the top three in the early laps but after, when you see the other riders start to overtake you and you can do nothing to stay with them, it is more difficult.”

Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) started the first race from 22nd place on the grid and was forced to retire in the pits.

2024 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics

Alex Lowes:
2024: Races: 7, Wins 2, Podiums 2, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 4 (3 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 36 (16 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 1 (0 for Kawasaki)

Axel Bassani:
2024: Races: 7, Wins 0, Podiums 0, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 0 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 6 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 0 (0 for Kawasaki)

8 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, Jonathan Rea 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
6 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020)
5 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019)

Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 180 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 544 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 108 – second overall