Benefitting from information gathered in recent private test sessions Jonathan Rea took his Ninja ZX-10RR to second place in Race One, having held the lead for the first eight laps at one of his favourite circuits.
Rea had qualified second in Superpole, just missing out on pole position by 0.027 seconds. When fastest qualifier Alvaro Bautista was penalised with a drop from pole position to fourth place on the Race One grid (for slow riding on the racing line) Jonathan finally started Race One from pole position.
Rea is not, however, credited with the Superpole ‘win’ in the record books or the championship statistics, despite launching from pole position. He will start the races on Sunday from second position on the grid, now that Bautista has served his penalty.
Experiencing reduced grip from his front end in the second half of the intense opening race Rea could not fight back when Bautista went past, but Jonathan had enough pace to keep Toprak Razgatlioglu behind him at the finish.
Lowes also had a positive Superpole qualifying outcome, as he finished fourth in the original rankings, but was promoted to the front row and third place after Bautista’s penalty.
In the race Alex held a podium position for one lap and then fourth for much longer, but was eventually pushed back down the order, finally losing the chance of sixth place on the very last lap.
With the ten-lap Tissot Superpole ‘sprint’ race and the final full distance Race Two to come for the WorldSBK competitors on Sunday 23 April, Rea has now moved up to fourth place in the rankings, with Lowes 11th.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am happy with the effort today. The rhythm was fast and when I was in front I was doing 1’34 laps. I could see the gap to the riders behind going 0.1, 02, 0.1, so I knew I was not shaking them at that rhythm. I knew Alvaro would come past sooner or later, as his rhythm was very fast on Friday. When he did I just dug in and tried to do everything I could, but with seven laps to go I made a small mistake and then there was a small gap that lost me the slipstream. I was taking so many liberties just to be there, but you can’t do it every lap. I was losing a lot with my front tyre at the end, even on the harder front option. But we got solid points and I felt like we had some positives from that race.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “I was pretty happy with Superpole and I did a good lap straight away in the dry. I was hoping for a better time with my second fast lap but I made a small mistake which robbed me of the chance of pole position. My pace on new tyres is really good. In the race I expected to have a chance of the podium and I had an OK start. I was behind the front three, which was where I wanted to be early on. But I did not have a good feeling with the front of the bike. Racing is strange because if you don’t have a good weekend - but you can move forward to sixth or seventh - you are quite happy. But when you expect to be challenging for the podium and then you don’t, and you struggle for the lap time when the front grip goes, you are somehow more disappointed. We have two more chances tomorrow after a good debrief with the guys tonight, and we will see if they can make some steps forward.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) had to withdraw from the opening race with a technical issue. Oliver König (Orelac Racing Movisio Kawasaki) was 20th after qualifying 25th. First time 2023 rider Isaac Vinales (TPR by Vinales Racing Kawasaki) was 23rd.
2023 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2023: Races 7, Wins 0, Podiums 2, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 118 (103 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 247 (205 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 40 (36 for Kawasaki)
2023: Races: 7, 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: 177 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 526 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 105 – second overall