That seemed like a very good lap at the end of qualifying, how happy were you with it?
Yeah, it was a 2m06.9s and a couple of tenths faster was my ideal time. We improved the bike today and fixed the lack of steering at the front. FP4 was stronger and I was into the 2m07’s and did that at the start of Q1 on my first lap. I came into the pits and changed tyres but I could only get one lap out of it and I made a couple of mistakes on that lap.
Did you run out of time for a second lap?
Yeah, normally there’s enough time for two laps on one tyre and pit and then get another two laps in but this is a longer track so we couldn’t. I wanted a second lap on it because all weekend we’ve been faster on that second lap but I didn’t have enough time in qualifying. I tried hard on the first lap, I tried too hard, because I thought it was going to be my last shot. I think that if I’d put the put the lap together I would have piped Colin and been closer. For the race the setup was a lot better today and I’m quite happy with how I can consistently do 2m07’s and that’s what Espargaro was doing here last year so if I can do that I’ll be happy with it.
Barbera was the only CRT rider in front of you, what was the difference between you two?
He jumped up on his last lap with a good time at the end and jumped about four tenths. Race pace wise though we’re pretty similar but he seems to be able to put in a one off lap better than us. It’s mainly in the first sector that he’s making the difference. I’m weak through the first part of the left-rights. I feel that I’m not getting into the first part easily and that has a knock on effect for the rest. I went slower than I wanted to go through those changes of direction but in the rest of the lap I was matching Hector. I was the best of the CRT’s until Hector’s last lap when jumped ahead of me.
The Production Honda’s seem to be that step faster this weekend?
Yeah, being the leading CRT is all you can expect here because it’s a Honda track here in terms of the factory bike and the Production Honda has the same chassis attributes. So it works well here and it also has the extra five or six kmp/h down the straights here. The three Aprilia’s are at the bottom of the speedtraps all weekend and we’re lacking that bit of punch but the bike is working quite well and I think that we can do some decent laptimes tomorrow.
What’s the target for tomorrow?
Hopefully a few will fall off and we can get some points! Unfortunately that’s the reality of the situation but today I could have been 18th with a fast lap so we’ll look to be the top CRT bike and stay ahead of the guys that we qualified ahead of and hopefully jump in front of Hector. Maybe in the race Abraham will lose pace when the tyres drop off, he’s going pretty fast this weekend but maybe in the race if he doesn’t get a great start in the second half of the race we can be close to him.
After a strong qualifying performance and good race pace in Qatar are you looking forward to tomorrow?
Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I know that I had a pretty decent race pace last year so if I can keep my pace consistent and stay in the 2m07’s for as long as possible that would be a good pace.
On the track this weekend you seem to be dangling your leg more in the heavy braking zones than normal, why have you made this change?
It’s just for balance under braking. Normally when you want the bike to be good on the brakes you’ll lift the front end and lower the rear to change the balance of the bike but if we did that here we’d lose too much in steering. That was actually the direction that we went yesterday and we couldn’t get it round the turns so we had to put the bike on its nose and it lost a lot of braking stability the leg dangle helps to counteract this. I know that it’s something that people look at and think that it’s a ‘show thing’ or coping Rossi but it actually does something and it works for me around here. It gives more stability under braking. With so much hard braking around here we needed to make compromise between steering and braking stability so I’ve had to adjust my style accordingly. I’m using the leg dangle more and putting my weight over the front more. When we get the bike into the ballpark I can adjust my style to get the most from it but when the bike is struggling you can’t adjust your style and magically turn it round. It’s a nice feeling to be in the ballpark and you feel like you’ve done your job and gotten a good laptime out of it. It’s funny in this paddock that you’re happy with 20th place but that’s an achievement for us and you have to be realistic and race the five CRT bikes at the back of the grid. You have to hope that the circuit will suit us and not the Production Honda’s.
Are you looking at Jerez as a potential track for that?
Maybe, Jerez was quite good for us last year and there isn’t much of a back straight there so fingers crossed it’ll be good again.
Looking away from MotoGP can you talk about the Laverty brothers?
We raced each other in Motocross and in the early days of 125’s and then I raced against John in BSB. I didn’t race against Eugene because he was on the world stage when I wasn’t.
How much does it help being able to talk to them about different experiences that you’re having on the bike? Last year Eugene came to Mugello with you and you’ve said that having him as a spotter was very helpful.
It’s good and I like that we have that extra string in our bow because you can trust what they tell you 100%. There’s no ulterior motive and I like having that. Eugene is very detailed orientated and if he tells you something it’s always accurate and you can make that change and it helps on track. I can do the same for him when I go to races and he has John full-time in his corner doing that for him. When I was down in Australia this year I was able to do that and I really think that it does help. A lot of riders have spotters or someone to help them and having someone with experience that can see those details on track can be nice. It’s good having racing brothers because we always look out for each other and when me and John raced each other we always helped each other out. There wasn’t really any sibling rivalry between us but when you speak to the Lowes brothers they wanted to beat each other more than anything! We were the complete opposite and if I was following John and he knew that it was me behind he’d give me an easier time getting past if he knew that I could pull away and vice versa, we always looked out for each other.
Do you think does that come from having the age gap between you? There’s a five year gap between you so you would have started out racing at different Motocross levels and being able to help each other learn.
Yeah I think so. We’re a close family, my brothers are my best friends, and we have each other’s best interests at heart. We grew up together looking out for each other and I’m glad that we stayed true to that. Eugene’s been very successful but there’s no-one happier than me to see that success. It’s been good growing up together and it’s nice to see his success. I think that we’re all similar talent wise, there’s some differences between us, so it’s nice to see the success that Eugene has had with factory teams and you can think that if I had that shot I could do the same because I know our similarities. It’s been good for sure and it’s helped us for sure. I think that Eugene would say the same and that he got opportunities younger than us probably because of the ground work that I did. He’s younger than us but that meant that he was able to learn from our mistakes and what took me five years he could do in one year. He was always at the track even before he went circuit racing and could learn from me so that meant that he could shortcut some of the work. I was probably a benefit to him in that way and it meant that he could jump into it a lot faster. I’m not taking anything away from him though because he is talented and methodical and a good rider whose very clever on the bike and on setup and he’s got plenty of strengths.
Was it the same with John?
Yeah, it was a shame that he had his big accident at Oulton Park. He had months in hospital and it was a big recovery but he always said that he wanted to get back racing and he came back on the Aprilia in BSB in 2012 and did three quarters of the season but the bike wasn’t competitive. Last year he knew that he was going to struggle to get a competitive ride. He had the potential in BSB, he had a couple of podiums even though he didn’t have the best machinery but he knew that he wouldn’t get a top ten bike in BSB and he knew that last year he’d need to find a sponsor to fund a BSB ride. At the same time Eugene wanted someone in his corner acting as a manager and someone who could spot for him and who he could trust. Eugene offered him the job and he still gets a buzz from that. He’s building a house, has a young family and is training to be an osteopath so he has plenty on his plate. He misses the riding part but we’re hoping to get him out on some track day schools that I do in Spain. I do three a year down there with Pace Days for the last few years and hopefully John can get involved in helping me with the tuition and we could start a bit of a Laverty School! He enjoys the racing side with Eugene but when you used to race bikes it’s hard to get that same buzz again.