The impressive layout of the all-new 4.3km circuit, close to the shore on the Island of Lombok, made an instant positive impression on the competitors.
Even after missing much of the opening practice session with a technical issue on his bike Rea was second fastest overall on the opening day, riding the narrow ‘clean’ line on the track surface during FP2 to good effect.
Lowes, having recovered from recent surgery, was second in FP1 and then seventh in FP2, placing him seventh overall for the day. A slow crash in Turn Two lost him a little available time in the afternoon but did not impede his overall efforts to find a strong race set-up.
Like all of their rivals, Lowes and Rea had no experience at all of the newest WorldSBK circuit until today. Both practice sessions were held in very hot and humid conditions, with track temperatures that rose to over 50°C. There is still the potential for rain over the next two days but both FP1 and FP2 were run in dry conditions.
The new venue in Indonesia was in general met with great enthusiasm by the competitors, with most sections of the track being flowing and open. Slower and harder braking areas could provide some overtaking opportunities, once the racing line becomes wider after more use.
On Saturday 20 November Tissot Superpole qualifying will be the precursor for the first race, over 19-laps of the 4.3km circuit.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “The track is nice, the layout is nice, but it is just quite dirty out there, especially off line. FP2 was a big step compared to FP1 with a lot of rubber laid down. The layout is very good and it has a different character. The last corner is a bit like Termas in Argentina. T1 feels almost like Donington. Turn Two to Three is like a smaller version of Misano T1 and T2. The middle sectors are really fast and they are where you make the lap time. If the bike is working a little bit better then you carry all that speed through. I spent more than half the session in the pitbox this morning which had a knock-on effect to learn the track. But in FP2 I think we did a positive job to find a good rhythm and the bike is working OK. There is still margin to improve in some areas, so I am quite optimistic to fight tomorrow in Race One.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “The plan was to get as many laps in as possible at this new circuit. We managed to achieve that. In the afternoon we did plenty of laps and we tried a couple of things working with the tyre options. The front tyre seemed to be a little bit critical on tyre wear but this afternoon it was a little bit better. As the track improves, in terms of more rubber being laid down, the grip will be a bit better. The layout of the track is really good and it is enjoyable to ride. The section from Turn Three all the way to Turn Ten has a lot of changes of direction. It’s a relatively fast section, which is good fun to ride. For a first day it has been really good. I am really happy to be here in the Mandalika Circuit and I’m looking forward to some improvements tomorrow.”
Isaac Vinales (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) continued his good run of form to record 12th place on day one, with Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) 18th and WorldSBK rookie and stand-in rider,
Oliver König (TPR Outdo Kawasaki), was 20th.
2021 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2021: Races 35, Wins 11, Podiums 28, Superpoles 8
Career Race Wins: 110 (95 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 213 (171 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 35 (31 for Kawasaki)
2021: Races: 30, Wins 0, Podiums 5, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 29 (9 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 1 (0 for Kawasaki)
8 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, 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: 169 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 487 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 100 – second overall