Like the recent two-day test at Jerez in Spain, Portimao was blessed with consistent weather and track conditions, allowing new signing Axel and the more experienced Ninja ZX-10RR rider Lowes to complete a lot of work over two full days of track action, all of it alongside their 2024 rivals.
Having spend day one working on used tyres, to get an optimum race long bike set-up to take into the start of the points-scoring season, Lowes was then free to try for a strong single lap time on a qualifying tyre. He finished third fastest on the second day at Portimao, with a personal best of 1’39.521.
Bassani was once again learning the intricacies of the Ninja ZX-10RR in his first Kawasaki season - and his first inside an official WorldSBK team. The Italian rider made progress once again on his full distance race set-up as he continued to gain more experience. On softer tyres he improved his best lap to a 1’40.362, just over a second from the fastest lap of all and good enough for 12th position overall.
With lots of hard and positive work completed, and final decisions being made on how to approach the first round of the championship, KRT feels ready to make their final preparations before the season starts for real in just a few weeks’ time.
The FIM Superbike World Championship will officially commence between 23-25 January. Before that there will be the KRT team launch on February 8 and a two day official organisers’ test at Phillip Island, to be held between 19-20 February.
Alex Lowes, stated: “We have been working hard this winter with my crew chief Pere on used tyre settings. The final day here at Portimao was the first day where he was pushing me to focus on finding some speed as well. The electronics work we did, the set up work we did; we have definitely improved our pace on used tyres. We didn’t know how that would affect our one lap pace but when we pushed on with a run on the SCQ tyre, I did a couple of laps in the 1’39s and my best ever lap here. So we have to be happy because the bike was working well. We finished our winter testing in Europe with our best day yet.”
Axel Bassani, stated: “This test was good and the family of Kawasaki is really nice. You feel like you are home. I am really happy to be here. The bike is not easy right now and we have to improve a lot but we are testing the bike here to do this. All the team are pushing a lot to try to be first in WorldSBK, and we have a lot to do. The first test at Jerez was not easy because the bike was completely different from the one I rode before, but step-by-step I am starting to learn a lot about this machine. I have had to completely change my style of riding. I have to think about everything I have to do. Especially in these two last European test days in Portimao, we have worked a lot on that. We improved a lot. We are ready for the next test in Australia.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Alex Lowes, stated: “Our lap time at the end of this test was good, but we focused on the weakest points of our package at the start, and adapting the bike to the new rules. We focused in Jerez and here in Portimao with the same items. We improved the electronics and the balance, in terms of chassis, swing arm and some other measures. We worked with Showa, as always. I would say that I am very happy. In Jerez Alex already showed a very good performance. We now need to go to the races and ride under hotter conditions. But, it seems Alex is very consistent, very linear with the lap times. He is doing the same lap times on the second lap that he can do on the 18th lap, and this is something very impressive. A very important point is that I am always working with the rider feeling. I think he is talking very deeply with the bike, understanding when there is a new tyre, when the tyre is dropping, when the bike behaviour is changing - he understands it. He made a big effort and a lot of laps. Well done to Alex as he made a very good job, as did everybody in the team. Now we are ready to go to Australia and keep working. We still have a job to do, as always, because it never stops.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Axel Bassani, stated: “I am impressed the way Axel is managing all these tests because it not easy to jump into a factory team. He has shown his professionalism even in his youth and is really committed to the job. This is not the easiest track especially when you are fresh to a bike and still have to learn to manage the bike properly. Our bike has a unique character and it takes some time to get used to it. But especially on the final day of this test the bike and rider became closer and we made some small adjustments on the chassis set-up. We reconfirmed some items we had at Jerez. Especially today, we had the first race at Phillip Island in our minds and we are really preparing ourselves for the opening round. We did a long run and Axel started to change his riding style to be more suitable for the Ninja ZX-10RR. He learned a lot over these 15 laps. In the end we used some softer tyres and Axel was able to improve his lap time with each set of tyres. We can say we did a good job in this test and really prepared ourselves for Phillip Island.”
Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was also present at the Portimao test on his KRT supplied Ninja ZX-10RR, as he prepares to start the first round of the championship alongside his 2024 rivals.