The Jerez de la Frontera circuit supplied the backdrop for the KRT duo of Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes to complete an important pre-season test session alongside most of their 2020 WorldSBK rivals.
The Spanish track featured changeable weather and often a wet surface during this test, for almost all of day one and much of the second day. After the track conditions started to dry on the final day five times World Champion Rea ended up fastest of all, with a best lap of 1’40.983. Lowes was fourth overall before the tests were completed and 0.659 seconds from Jonathan.
After the team saw the changeable weather forecast for Wednesday and Thursday they took the unexpected opportunity to set some dry laps on Tuesday. Rea sat out the first day of the combined tests but new team member Lowes was inside the top positions after his first fully wet test sessions on his official Ninja ZX-10RR machine.
Bonding well with his bike and team Lowes worked on feel in the wet on day one and then getting more comfortable with his ergonomic package on day two, finding a better riding position that he can take forward.
Rea’s eventual fastest time of the tests was set after completing only 19 laps today. He made progress with his machine’s handling and set-up package as the track conditions improved.
Some rival teams will now head to Portimao to take part in another two days of testing but KRT will undertake its own private one-day test at the Montmelo circuit in Catalunya on Monday 27th January. The KRT official launch, in Barcelona, will be the final big item on the KRT European ‘to-do list’, on Thursday 6 February.
The ultimate pre-season tests will take place at the opening round venue of Phillip Island in Australia, a few days before the start of a whole new racing season.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “The weather was not playing ball really. We sat out yesterday because the conditions were quite wet and changeable. One minute it was monsoon weather and then a drying track. Today were found a track that, although it wasn’t perfect and had a few damp patches that compromised the racing line, was consistent enough to try some items on the bike. We tried to focus on getting the bike to turn a little bit easier and I think we made a step forward in that direction. We need to confirm that in our test at Montmelo on Monday before we get to go Australia. We also managed to get a few laps in on Tuesday, where we basically confirmed all the items that we had in November. The positives were that we got to try a different balance of the bike.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “It was a real good test and I am happy I got to ride the bike in mixed conditions. I was fast in the wet and the drying conditions and I am starting to feel a lot more comfortable on the bike. I really enjoyed it and I feel like we are making some steps in the right direction before Phillip Island. I feel I have a good riding position now; one that I can keep. We did not get that much dry track time but I certainly do feel more comfortable than when I got here, so that is positive. Any time you get to ride a new track is great and Montmelo is a new addition to the calendar. It will be important to get in as many laps as we can and a good a understanding of the bike. Any track time is important to let me keep building on my confidence for the first race.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “Yesterday it was raining all day but the day before we got some track time in during the afternoon. We could make some small tests that were in the plan. We did that because the weather forecast said we would have two days of rain afterwards. For us there was no point to ride in the rain on Wednesday. On the final day today we had maybe three hours on slick tyres but some corners were still damp and the lap times were maybe 1.5 seconds from where they should be. We did 19 laps today with standard tyres. Now we go to Montmelo on Monday, which is new track for Johnny and us. I am excited to go there because we have never been there with the Superbike.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Alex Lowes, stated: “Maybe 75% of our track time at this test was wet but this gave us the opportunity to let Alex get a first impression of the ZX-10RR in the these conditions. It was very positive. From the first exit he felt the bike was performing very well. He made two exits and only eight flying laps and he went to the top. What pleased me was that he said, ‘OK that is enough in the wet because I know how the bike behaves and performs well.’ In the late morning today the track started to dry out and we went out, first on wet tyres, but then on slicks. Although the conditions at that time made it five seconds slower than in normal dry conditions again Alex went to the top of the time sheets. He has shown a lot of potential and confidence in the bike in any conditions. One more day on track to go next week and then we go to Phillip Island.”
2019 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019
2019: Races 37, Wins 17, Podiums 34, Superpoles 7
Career Race Wins: 88 (73 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 168 (126 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 23 (19 for Kawasaki)
2019: Races: 37, Wins 0, Podiums 9, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 1 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 20 (0 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: 146 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 433 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 88 – second overall