At a warm and very windy Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal the last day of September started out in a strong fashion for both KRT riders, with each launching from a front row starting position.
In Tissot Superpole qualifying Jonathan Rea scored his 43rd career pole position, drawing himself level on the all-time statistics with second placed rider Troy Corser. With Lowes second on the grid it was an all-round strong performance from both sides of the KRT pitbox. Rea was just 0.010 seconds from equalling his existing track best record with his Superpole time of 1’39.620 today.
At the start of Race One Rea unavoidably tagged the rear tyre of Alvaro Bautista, the eventual winner, and was pushed wide. Jonathan lost places and dropped to sixth as he rejoined the leading group and got back into the podium battle.
A spectacular early few laps saw six riders fighting inside the leading group, with Rea eventually in third position with half race distance to go. He would remain there until the end of the race to claim his 17th rostrum of the year.
Lowes went from his long-time fourth position to fifth and then sixth, before he made up ground at the end and reclaimed fifth place. This was Alex’s comeback race after suffering a knee injury that required surgery just a few weeks ago.
With one more day of action at Portimao still to come for the WorldSBK riders, they will face a ten-lap Tissot Superpole race on Sunday, followed by a second 20-lap Race Two.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It was so nice to take another Superpole. It was a good lap but so strange because it didn’t feel like a pole position lap because there were a few mistakes in there. At the back end of the session there were a lot of yellow flags so I got my time in early. It was so nice for Alex to be on the front row too, and good for the team. In the race I struggled at the very beginning because Alvaro cut back in T3 and he just picked me up a little bit. Fortunately I stayed on the bike and then I had to regain track position. I got right back there but then the pace, for me, was just too fast. I couldn’t do 1’40s laps. All weekend I have been doing low 1’41s. So the front two were just getting away, getting away - and then in the last half lasted the race I just struggled in corner exit. The rear tyre was spinning, the electronics were working too much and it was just a combination of things. So, there is room for improvement and hopefully tomorrow we can get a bit closer.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “I feel I’m not in my best shape, maybe because I lost out on a race in Motorland. We had the big break in the summer, then an injury, I had an operation on my arm, so I am a little bit behind on my fitness. I then had ten days recovering after my knee operation. It didn’t really give me any pain and I am definitely happy to be back. It is a lot more fun riding than watching! And I was second in Superpole. l was on a good qualifying lap, but then there was another yellow flag when someone crashed. I slowed down then went for another lap because it is so tight in WorldSBK now that if you miss a couple of tenths it can mean you are a couple of rows further back on the grid. Qualifying is almost more important than any other session because it can really change your weekend. I was happy to do my best lap ever here, especially after having some time off and two operations, so you can’t expect much more really.”
Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) took his Ninja ZX-10RR to 19th place, Oliver König (Orelac Racing Movisio Kawasaki) was 23rd. Isaac Vinales (TPR by Vinales Racing Kawasaki) retired from Race One.
2023 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2023: Races 31, Wins 1, Podiums 17, Superpoles 3
Career Race Wins: 119 (104 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 262 (220 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 43 (39 for Kawasaki)
2023: Races: 27, Wins 0, Podiums 1, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 34 (14 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: 178 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 541 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 108 – second overall