At the home circuit for the bulk of KRT’s staff the final two WorldSBK races took place in much cooler conditions than the opening day of racing on Saturday, when track temperatures approached 50°C.
In the first Sunday race, the 10-lap Tissot Superpole ‘Sprint’, everyone took to the track on slick tyres. During the race light rain started to fall and thus the group chasing eventual winner Alvaro Bautista closed up, as certain parts of the track started to get slightly wet, allowing the more confident riders to make attacks on their rivals.
Rea took a great initial advantage of the changing conditions by moving into second place, but he was to fall at the first corner of the last lap, His front tyre just touched the white line on the edge of the braking zone as eventual second placed finisher Toprak Razgatlioglu attempted to draw alongside and pass him.
Lowes then looked on course to finish third in the Superpole Race, but he was passed in the final lap by two riders and recorded a strong fifth place finish at the chequered flag.
In the second and final race of the Catalunya weekend the conditions were again cool but dry this time around. Lowes made the most of his second row start to take second place on lap three, until moving into fourth position on lap seven. Alex gave all he could for the whole 20-lap race and scored a determined fourth place for his efforts.
After his Superpole Race misfortune Rea started Race Two from the fourth row of the grid, in tenth place. He had to fight hard to make up places in the race, eventually finishing 1.4 seconds behind Lowes, in fifth place.
After scoring a third place in Race One and then fifth in Race Two, Rea is fourth in the overall championship fight, with 100 points to his credit. Lowes is ninth on a total of 62 points.
The next round of the WorldSBK Championship will take place at the ever-popular Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, between 2-4 June. Before that there will be a two day Misano test for KRT and almost all of their main rivals, between 11 and 12 May.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I touched the white line and crashed in the Superpole Race. When Toprak came past, I felt it was quite close and he was not aiming at the corner but aiming towards me to open up the line. He gave me space - but at 320kmph there was wind buffeting that knocked me around a little bit. I was wide, caressed the white line and that was enough to put me down. I was really frustrated because it was a complete knock-on effect for Race Two. Starting from tenth place on the fourth row, I had to clear traffic in the beginning. The Honda guys in the first laps were buzzing around, attacking me as I was attacking them. Then Locatelli - he was really good in some areas of the track, especially the last sector. Everywhere else I was able to catch him. But in doing so I was abusing my tyre a little bit. When I had clear track towards Alex and Toprak I thought the race was going to come to me and I would catch them. But they just kept going and I feel like I had experienced too much tyre consumption in those early laps. Although I could not catch Alex and Toprak it is encouraging that Alex had such a good race as well. We were able to compete for podiums here. So, not the weekend we dreamed of, but I think it ended up better than expectations after Friday’s practice sessions.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “My pace is good, I can be fast when we have grip and the conditions allow it. Then I can be really fast. But we have had front tyre issues this year and on Friday afternoon at Catalunya, I was in trouble. On Saturday we made quite a drastic change and I struggled to understand the front of the bike. Today we went back to the settings from the test we did here earlier this year, and then tried to manage that. We got a bit lucky because it was nearly 20°C lower on the track surface compared to Race One on Saturday, which is good for our bike. I made a good start in Race Two, rode well in the race and managed it at the end. I was able to do a good job. I can’t ride much better than that. I had a good start, made no mistakes and was riding on the limit every lap, so and I know I am riding well. As a team we need to all work together to try to close the gap and make some steps forward.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 19th in the Superpole Race and then a faller in Race Two, after tangling with another rider.
Oliver König (Orelac Racing Movisio Kawasaki) missed the Sunday races after tests showed that he had broken his ankle in a Race One crash on Saturday. Isaac Vinales (TPR by Vinales Racing Kawasaki) was 20th in the Superpole Race and then a retiree in Race Two.
2023 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2023: Races 12, 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: 12, 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