Setting a 1.41.817 lap time that was well under the lap record pace on race tyres, championship leader Rea made the most of improved track conditions compared to an official Portimao test session held only last month. He set his fastest Friday time on the Ninja ZX-10RR in the very first session, using settings he and the technical staff had evaluated at the tests.
After suffering ligament damage to his ankle in a recent sports training accident Sykes made his return to competitive action at Portimao having missed the August test session through injury. He felt immediately at home on the Ninja ZX-10RR, and was third fastest after FP1. He only dropped down the final Friday ranking as he did not resort to using fresh tyres near the end of FP3.
It was a productive and positive first day in Portugal for both KRT riders, even though they had to deal with a red flag stoppage shortly after the start of FP3. Rea also had a slow speed fall in FP2, but thanks to quick work from his team he was able to get back into action at high pace after his machine was repaired.
Both KRT riders have qualified directly for Superpole 2 on Saturday which will determine their final starting positions for race one, scheduled to start at 13.00 Portuguese time. Race two will take place on Sunday the 16th of September, in an unusual 15.15 time slot.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) put on an excellent display of improvement today as he finished up fourth fastest, having started his day 11th. Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 16th fastest today, Yonny Hernandez (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) 18th and Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) 19th.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “To do 1’41 laps on race tyres already is quite fast, so I was really happy. Unfortunately in the last session we got a red flag during a race simulation I had just started, so we were not able to put together an uninterrupted long run. But we have enough information to go into tomorrow and understand the tyres. In the last session we were able to put a lot of laps into the tyre to make our decision. The track has a lot of grip this weekend compared to the test two weeks ago. It is in much better shape and there are more bikes on the track than there were at the test.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “In the first session I could not believe it because I felt at home straight away. I was enjoying myself and went up to P2 after just a couple of laps. After session one I was stiff, but I have to thank all the doctors and physios. After a little siesta before FP3, I rolled out again and we just stayed on one tyre. I was happy with the performance although we dropped down the order - but that was because we did not use a fresh tyre at the end. In reality I was impressed with the lap times we did towards the end of the last session.”
2018 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016 & 2017
2018: Races 18, Wins 10, Podiums 15, Superpoles 2
Career Race Wins: 64 (49 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 127 (85 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 16 (12 for Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2018: Races: 18, Wins 1, Podiums 6, Superpoles 4
Career Race Wins: 34 (34 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 106 (105 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 46 (46 for Kawasaki)
5 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016 & 2017), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
3 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017)
3 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016 & 2017)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 120 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 370 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 79 – second overall