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23 Helmikuu 2024

Lowes Leads The Early Season Charge

The opening track sessions of the 2024 FIM Superbike World Championship got underway at Phillip Island in Australia on Friday 23 February, with Alex Lowes leading the entire field thanks to his new track best lap of 1’29.042. His 2024 team-mate Axel Bassani was just over one second behind and 15th in the combined times.

Two Free Practice sessions took place at Phillip Island on the first official day of the new season, with the second one starting off on a wet track surface due to an earlier fall of rain. Very windy conditions at times did not help the job of the riders and technical crews, especially as the wind changed direction at times.

On what has been an aggressively grippy new track surface the riders eventually made it out to continue their pre-race preparations as conditions dried out. Lowes was the fastest rider not only on day one but of all time at this 4.445km long circuit. His best lap on the official Ninja ZX-10RR put him 0.059 seconds up the next fastest rider, Nicolo Bulega.

Such was the intense competition towards the end of the compressed FP2 session that Axel Bassani, only 1.043 seconds from his new team-mate’s new track best time, was 15th overall. The disrupted weather at the start of the afternoon session also did not help Axel’s push to set a fast time in his first competitive sessions since he joined Kawasaki last winter.

Now Lowes and Bassani will take part in an FP3 session on the morning of Saturday 24 February, before the Tissot Superpole qualifying contest for grid positions and Race One for the first points of the year later that same day.

The scheduled 22-lap ‘long’ WorldSBK races have been reduced to 20 laps, and will feature mandatory pit stops to change rear tyres between lap nine and lap 11. The evidence of a recent official test session showed that some riders would not be able to run the full race distance without the risk of experiencing tyre issues before the end of a full race.

The joint decision was thus made to introduce mandatory tyre change pitstops in both Race One and Race Two, with all riders having the 63 second long ‘Pit Intervention Time’ added to their race times to ensure a fair contest across full race distance.

The Tissot Superpole race, on Sunday morning, will be run over the planned ten laps.

Alex Lowes, stated: “I have gone well here in the past with the Kawasaki. It is a strange track surface this year given how much grip we have. I think it helps us with our bike set-up. When we have got grip we have seen that we can qualify well and race well. In testing we have been doing a good job, working hard and it is nice to see some hard work paying off a bit. We will see how things go tomorrow when qualifying and racing starts.”

Axel Bassani, stated: “Yes, it’s been a strange day. We didn’t do a lot of laps and the feeling with the bike was not the same as Tuesday, during the official pre-season tests here. Also, the conditions today were really difficult because there was a lot of wind. It’s only Friday so we have to continue to push, to work hard and be focused on our goals.”

Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) placed 21st after one day of practice.

2024 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics

Alex Lowes:
2024: Races: 0, Wins 0, Podiums 0, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 34 (14 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 1 (0 for Kawasaki)

Axel Bassani:
2024: Races: 0, 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: 178 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 542 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 108 – second overall