Sam Lowes: I relish the pressure and don't need to switch off from racing
At the age of just 22, Sam Lowes has almost a decade of experience racing on two wheels. With 2013 set to be the biggest year of his career so far, the Lincoln rider tells Mark Whiley how he deals with the pressure of racing at world level...
Sam Lowes is not the sort of person to play it safe, unsurprisingly given that he races motorbikes for a living.
After two successful years in the World Supersport Championship with the Louth-based PTR Honda team, he decided he needed a change and signed for the Russian-based Yakhnich Yamaha squad for 2013.
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But the former North Kesteven School pupil believes the gamble will pay off.
If it does and he enjoys another successful campaign, a ride in World Superbikes is his for the taking...
It's as simple as that. That might sound like a big statement, but that is the way I am approaching the season with my new team.
I won the British Supersport title in 2010 and there was a lot pressure then. I couldn't afford to make mistakes and had to be on the pace every week.
Since then I've had just two years at World Championship level and some of the tracks I've only been to twice.
But the pressure has still been high because I've been expected to be on the pace and get results against riders who are a lot more experienced.
For me, it's something that goes with the job.
It makes me dig in more. I think it's a good thing to feel a bit of pressure.
I get really nervous before every race, but that's a good thing.
There's a lot more to my job than just riding a bike.
At the end of last year I got sorted what I was doing for this year.
It was announced after the last race of the season, but I knew about it a little bit before.
I had one week where I just chilled and didn't do much, but since then I've had a busy winter.
I went to the Valancia MotoGP courtesy of Yamaha and one of my sponsors (energy drinks supplier) Monster to say 'hello' to a few people as I had just joined the Yamaha family from Honda.
From there I went to Russia to meet the owners of the team and did a bit of PR out there.
Then, six weeks before Christmas, I was back into my normal routine, trial biking, training and golfing.
Training is never a chore for me because it means I'm better on my bike.
Overall I have lots of fun in my life and I like to go out with friends.
I went to Las Vegas with my brother Alex over Christmas.
Monster hooked us up with some cool things to do.
We trained out there, but it was in a different environment, which was good.
I was testing earlier this month and I've had trips to helmet and leathers suppliers, sorting out the finer details like that.
For me, this winter has flown by and I've got plenty to keep me busy before I fly off to the first race in Australia.
I've done a photo shoot with Leon (Haslam) and Alex for a Superbike magazine and the other day I opened a bike shop in Chesterfield.
I'm going to a supercross event with Monster this weekend which will be cool. I'm not riding obviously, just there to watch. Then it's just another week until I fly out to Australia because we've got an official test there before the actual race meeting.
As I have said, I'm expecting to challenge for the title this season and having the support of a manufacture like Yamaha will be a big help.
Yamaha are returning to World Supersport this year and have a big reputation in the class which I'll be aiming to uphold.
Cal Crutchlow won the championship 2009 and is now in MotoGP and Chaz Davies won it in 2011 and he's in World Superbikes now. That's where I could be next year.
So there's a lot of expectation, but no one puts more pressure on me than I put on myself.
I'm not feeling too much pressure at the moment, especially after our latest test session in Jerez, where we were under a tenth of a second off three-time champion Kenan Sufuoglu, who is the man to beat.
Plus, I've still got more learn with the bike and more to learn with the team.