Five times WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea and current 2020 season points leader Alex Lowes will now happily shift gear from preparation mode to racing mode after two positive recent experiences at Misano and then Catalunya on their Ninja ZX-10RR machines.
The first round of the season took place in Australia at the end of February but due to the global Covid-19 pandemic the subsequent round in Qatar – and every other round until the forthcoming restart at Jerez – has either been cancelled or postponed.
Both KRT riders won a race apiece at that Phillip Island event, personal high points of what proved to be an intense and endlessly entertaining opening WorldSBK weekend of action in Australia. With Lowes top of the current championship table with 51 points and Rea fourth overall on 32 it has already been a strong start from the official Kawasaki pairing. The opening races provided a solid platform the entire team is aiming to build on in what will now be a relatively short but very intense calendar in WorldSBK.
As well as all the usual challenges that competition will bring numerous Covid-19 protocols will have to be followed this coming weekend, as they were in the two recent tests in Italy and Catalunya. The expected high ambient and track temperatures that were evident at the recent pair of Jerez-based MotoGP rounds will be another factor for the team and riders to take into particular consideration when it is their turn to face the 4.423km long circuit in Andalusia.
The first action of the re-started season will take place with FP1 and FP2 on Friday 31st July, with racedays scheduled for Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd August. It has been a long and often frustrating road for all in the WorldSBK paddock to travel since the exciting opening round some five months ago, but the expectation of all is for more excitement and close competition at the popular Jerez circuit, before the championship heads to Portimao in Portugal for more of the same on the following weekend.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I'm very excited to go racing again after this long break in the calendar. Over the last few weeks I have been able to familiarise myself with our ZX-10RR and enjoy the buzz of riding again. Both Misano and Montmeló tests have been positive. We were able to achieve what we wanted which was to be competitive in both our single lap pace and long run pace. Jerez is a great circuit and one I enjoy. I believe the work and conclusions we have arrived at during testing will help this weekend in the hot conditions when the grip level is not at the optimum. It will be strange not to have the SBK atmosphere with fans in the grandstand and a packed paddock show, but I'm looking forward to whatever is in store.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “It feels exciting - like the start of a new season - after such a long time without racing. I’ve had two really good tests with the ZX-10RR and feel like I have a lot better understanding of the bike, which will be crucial to help me find a setting in the high temperatures at Jerez. We now have back-to-back rounds, which will be a bonus after few months off. Two race weekends and six races to get stuck into - it’s going to be fun! Obviously I’m going to miss the fans being there but I know the races are going to be great, so they should make sure they tune in - and thanks as always for the support.”
Other strong Ninja ZX-10RR entrants will be out for success at Jerez, with Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Sandro Cortese (Outdo Kawasaki TPR) and Maximilian Scheib (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) all set for their second round of championship competition in 2020. Scheib is currently 11th overall, Cortese 12th and Fores 14th.
2020 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019
2020: Races 3, Wins 1, Podiums 2, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 89 (74 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 170 (128 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 23 (19 for Kawasaki)
2020: Races: 3, Wins 1, Podiums 2, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 22 (2 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 1 (0 for Kawasaki)
7 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
5 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017, 2018 & 2019)
5 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 148 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 437 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 88 – second overall