With track temperatures climbing to just under 50°C in the first race of the weekend at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes took part in Superpole qualifying and then a scheduled 20 lap race that was finally shortened to 17-laps.
In Superpole qualifying Rea had a dramatic but fruitful finish as he was able to squeeze in one final lap, after a crash from his team-mate Lowes had earlier halted the session with just over two minutes to go. Rea managed to get out again in the short final period of Superpole and ended up with a front row staring place, in third position. Lowes was sixth fastest in Superpole which meant he started the first race from the second row of the grid.
The proposed 20-lap Race One only lasted for three laps, shortly after Oliver König crashed out on his Orelac Racing Movisio Kawasaki.
The restart was run over 17-laps and Rea was an integral part of the leading group behind the clear race winner, Alvaro Bautista. Rea was in second place from lap six until almost the end. He looked to be on course for a second place finish until he was passed on the final lap by Toprak Razgatlioglu, and Rea could not quite find a way past before the chequered flag.
The luckless Lowes was to be a faller in the 17-lap race, losing the front at Turn Seven. Alex was unable to continue and now looks to Sunday’s two races to get important championship points on the board once again.
With Race One complete, Sunday May 7 will feature the Tissot-Superpole race over ten laps and then a final full distance Race Two.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “A solid day and better than my expectations. In Superpole I got lucky and unlucky, because the red flag came when I was in the final sector of a very good lap, so we had already used one of our tyres. We had to put in a used Q tyre again in the restart. According to the circuit’s timing tower I was out of time to do a final fast lap, but when I came onto the straight there was no chequered flag, so I thought - go! We improved the lap time so it was very lucky. I had good track positions and good starts in both races. In the restarted final race, once Bassani and Rinaldi had lost track position, I was in the front of the group, but Alvaro was in a different race. If I am talking about the race between Toprak and I, it was very difficult to maintain the rhythm without wasting the tyre trying to both stay in front and pull away from the group behind. So it was one of those races where I was trying to maintain my effort but not smash the tyre. I had nothing at the end to try to outbrake Toprak and even went back a gear going into the last corner, maybe thinking I could get a jump onto the finish line but he was too good in that last sector, going through those fast right hand corners.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “A tough day. We have tried a different setting with the bike and I was trying to hang in there in the race, maybe a little bit better than Friday afternoon’s feeling during the long run. Lecuona passed me and I was using him to drag me away from the fight behind. The right side of my front tyre was already having issues so I was risking too much on the left corners to gain back the time and unfortunately I crashed. As I said, a tough day. Tomorrow we will try to improve.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finished the first Catalunya race in 17th position. Local rider Isaac Vinales (TPR by Vinales Racing Kawasaki) was also an unfortunate faller in the 17 lap race, at Turn Ten.
2023 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2023: Races 10, Wins 0, Podiums 4, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 118 (103 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 249 (207 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 40 (36 for Kawasaki)
2023: Races: 10, 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: 528 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 105 – second overall