A massive dust storm on Thursday 14 October saw the entire circuit battered by sand and grit, which made for a lot of early track cleaning for the organisers before FP1 could get underway.
The early track action at the 4.276km long Circuito San Juan Villicum was then delayed after a technical issue with trackside communications, but once underway the 21 WorldSBK riders got down to work in finding an optimum race set-up.
Rea finished FP1 third overall despite sitting out some early laps to let the track conditions improve. Lowes was just one place behind in FP1 as the first non-European round since early 2020 got underway at a circuit used twice before by the WorldSBK championship.
In the FP2 session, run on a cleaner and more bedded-in track surface, Lowes was to finish an overall third fastest with a lap time of 1’38.420. Although Lowes has raced at Villicum in the past this was his first experience of riding his Ninja ZX-10RR around the unique Argentinian circuit.
Rea started well in FP2 but was caught out entering Turn Six with 15 minutes of the session completed. He fell without injury but took no further part in Friday’s on-track action as his machine was damaged.
Saturday’s Race One is set to take place at 15.00 local time in Argentina, after the grid positions have been allocated by the Tissot-Superpole Qualifying session.
The ten lap Tissot-Superpole Race will take place at noon local time on Sunday 17 October, and Race Two at 15.00.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I sat out about fifteen minutes of the first practice session just to see how quick the lap times were coming. Towards the end of the session the rhythm was quite OK. Off line it was still very dirty. I don’t think anybody was that optimistic on Thursday because we were literally told to get inside the team cabins because a real sandstorm was coming through! I have got to say that the guys have done a great job here and the track is pretty good compared to the previous years. Tyre choice is going to be important but I feel good with the bike, the feeling is there, and I was able to be fast even with the harder tyre.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “I missed racing at the previous rounds so it was important to come here and have quite a good Friday. My injured hand is not quite as good as I expected but I was able to do a lot of laps this afternoon with the same tyres on, to understand what we need to do for the race. I hope to be able to make a good race on Saturday. It is nice to be back here at Villicum and at a flyaway event with WorldSBK. It has been quite a while. We just need to improve in a couple of areas for tomorrow. The track was quite good. The lap times are quite fast and I think the track surface is only going to get better as the weekend goes on. I think the track conditions are quite good.”
Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 13th today, in only his second ride on a Ninja ZX-10RR. Isaac Vinales (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was an excellent fifth in FP1 and finally finished up a still very impressive 12th place overall.
Local riders and WorldSBK rookies for the TPR Outdo Kawasaki squad, Marco Solorza and Luciano Ribodino, were 20th and 21st respectively.
2021 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2021: Races 32, Wins 11, Podiums 25, Superpoles 8
Career Race Wins: 110 (95 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 210 (168 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 35 (31 for Kawasaki)
2021: Races: 28, Wins 0, Podiums 5, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 29 (9 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: 169 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 484 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 100 – second overall