Bright September sunshine and increasing temperatures from FP1 to FP2 meant lots of set-up work and evaluation of race tyre options for both Jonathan and Alex on Friday. The Barcelona - Catalunya circuit is particularly hard on front tyres but work is also needed on choosing rear tyres and making them work all through the races when the track temperature rises.
The hotter afternoon track temperatures meant not all riders could improve their best lap times from the morning session, although that part of the day was turned over to making a real evaluation of tyre choices and potential race pace.
Sunday’s ten-lap Superpole race will take place at 11am on Sunday morning but each full 20-lap WorldSBK race will start at 15.15 this weekend, during the hottest part of the day.
At the recently modified 4.657km long circuit, which features a longer and more open Turn Ten, Lowes and Rea prepared their machines for racing in hot conditions but there is a possibility of passing summer rain storms arriving during the rest of the weekend, which could call for a full wet or intermediate set-up.
Before the race action gets underway, and in whatever the prevailing weather conditions will be on Saturday, the KRT duo will face a short FP3 session, then Tissot-Superpole qualifying and finally Race One.
Rea will be out to extend his record of eight consecutive Superpole ‘wins’ on Saturday morning after setting a new stand-alone milestone at the previous round in Magny Cours.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “We found different grip levels from the ones we had in the Catalunya test. The grip level is quite low and even with a lot of tyre rubber down on the track in FP2, it was still quite low today. Step-by-step we are trying to understand what we are doing with the bike. I made a longer race simulation - not over full race distance - and the tyre grip started to drop. After that I wanted to try the SC0 option tyre, the harder one, but we did not have enough time and I wasn’t really fast with that. I know my race tyre set-up for tomorrow already, but we just need to be a little bit faster at the end. So the key, with the drop of the tyre, is going to be the last five or six laps. Tomorrow we will focus on making the life of the rear tyre better and see where we are.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “Today was not too bad because Catalunya last year was quite tough for me. This morning we stayed on the same tyre for the whole session. This afternoon I tried to do a bit of a long run and also tried some different tyre combinations that Pirelli brought. I struggled after 12-13 laps with front grip, but I had tried a tyre that I had not really used before. We know this track and if we look at last year I think this was the track where the lap times dropped the most during the race. We need a bike that, if it is dry, we can use to compete right to the end. That is what we will be working on tomorrow on used tyres. On new tyres, I feel like I can go quite fast.”
In the Spanish sunshine Isaac Vinales (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was the fastest Independent Kawasaki rider, in an impressive overall 12th place. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 15th, while Loris Cresson (TPR Outdo Kawasaki) was 21st and his new team-mate Lachlan Epis (TPR Outdo Kawasaki) 22nd in his first ever sessions of WorldSBK competition.
2021 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2021: Races 24, Wins 9, Podiums 22, Superpoles 8
Career Race Wins: 108 (93 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 207 (165 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 35 (31 for Kawasaki)
2021: Races: 22, 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: 167 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 481 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 100 – second overall