The headline news for this test, sharing joint-billing with the adoption of Kawasaki’s 2018 BSB champion Haslam alongside 2018 WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea, is the appearance of the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR on track in full WorldSBK trim.
The new Kawasaki contender will be fielded alongside some of its main 2019 rivals at Motorland and at subsequent tests, before the first round of the series in Australia on late February.
The latest 1000cc member of the Ninja family, launched as a road bike recently, features a higher-revving stock engine than the 2018 version plus the use of finger follower valve technology. The official Kawasaki WorldSBK team now embarks on its series of winter tests aiming to continue the incredible run of winning form that KRT have been able to demonstrate for several years at the very top level of production-derived racing.
With a new bike and a new riding pairing for the forthcoming season, KRT will not be short of work to do and tasks to complete both on and off track at Motorland.
The Aragon track sessions will be followed by another two day test in November of 2018, at Jerez de la Frontera, between the 26th and the 27th.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Generally at this time of the year I have been really tired and looking forward to some weeks of rest, but even at this part of the season I have arrived with high energy. I feel excited to go testing again. We have got a new specification Ninja ZX-10RR to get our hands on and this will be a great shakedown test to understand the bike. Of course, with changes we need to understand how that affects not just the engine, but also the chassis, and work accordingly. The difficult part about this time of year is to try to get good consistent weather. We had a few days off after Qatar where I stayed and hung out with the team, enjoying our 2018 success together - but now it is about turning our attention to 2019. I am excited to get the guys back together and get stuck into our winter test mode. That is, trying to give a consistent effort throughout the tests, giving some good feedback to my mechanics, technicians and all the engineers in Japan; to just try to understand the bike and work from there.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “I am already in Motorland doing some Supermoto riding with all my new guys in the team. I cannot wait to get onto my Ninja ZX-10RR. I am like a kid in a sweet shop to get on the bike for the first time! The weather is looking changeable on the two days that we will test but it would be nice to have a two dry days of testing. We also have a test at Jerez at the end of the month as well. I want to approach things in a calm way but at the same time I am really excited just to get going.”
Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, stated: “The main point in Motorland is to give a welcome to Leon Haslam. It will be the first time Leon has jumped on the bike and we will see his potential and start to work to adapt the bike in the best possible way to his needs. And it is for him to start to put himself in the mode of a KRT rider, to work hard and always to push the limits. Let’s see where we are in this starting point and see how much we can improve and develop toward the first race in Australia. With Johnny, we start a new season here. We cannot think about the success of 2018. For sure 2019 will be a complex year because year-by-year the pressure on him is more and more. Everybody expects him to continue winning on the same level he has been doing until now, and this is not easy. The others are pushing and pushing. Ducati will arrive with a new bike, BMW is arriving with a good bike too. Honda is trying to organise everything to be stronger, Yamaha for sure will be even more competitive. So we have to re-invent ourselves and to find a way for Johnny to improve his possibilities, which is not easy. So we have inside a lot of pressure to keep the same level and that is one of the main points to keep focused on. Of course we are going to work a lot to adapt to a new steps on the Ninja ZX-10RR model. We need to put that all in place in the winter time and find the best equilibrium to give the best tools to Johnny and Leon to be ready to fight in round one in Australia, with the other manufacturers and riders. So that is the target. Let’s see how it works.”
2018 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018
2018: Races 25, Wins 17, Podiums 22, Superpoles 2
Career Race Wins: 71 (56 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 134 (92 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 16 (12 for Kawasaki)
2018: Races: 4, Wins 0, Podiums 0, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 5 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 39 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 3 (0 for Kawasaki)
6 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
4 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017 & 2018)
4 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 127 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 380 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 81 – second overall