Rea Conquers Difficult Conditions For Second Place

2023-02-28 14:34
After a dry Superpole qualifying session to determine final grid positions, Rea was fourth and Lowes eighth. Only 0.464 seconds covered the top eight riders in Superpole qualifying, and less than one second separated the top 13.

With the preceding WorldSSP race run in varying stages of wet track conditions the first WorldSBK race of the new season was held in fully wet conditions, necessitating the use of full rain tyres.

From the second row of the grid, Rea made a good start and led after one lap, with eventual race winner Alvaro Bautista and Rea’s own team-mate Alex Lowes in second and third place respectively.

Bautista would pass Rea on lap ten, and despite Rea’s constant push Jonathan could not re-pass and he finished in second place. Rea was well clear of eventual third place rider Toprak Razgatlioglu, and collected a significant haul of points at the first time of asking in 2023.

Lowes was on course for a strong finish but a highside crash at the fast Turn Two, with eight laps to go, saw him ruled out of the race, after suffering a painful left ankle and hip. He has suffered no significant injury and has already been passed fit to ride again in the Superpole Race and Race Two on Sunday 26 February.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I was nervous for the WorldSSP riders who raced before us and I started getting anxious even before our race started, just watching them. A big shout out to John McPhee in WorldSSP (who took his Kawasaki to a podium finish in his first ever WorldSSP race). I was yipping it up in the garage when he was racing. So I went to see him in Parc Ferme after his race, and ask how the conditions were in the full wet. I was pretty convinced to make a full wet set-up for Race One. I made a great start and I felt good. In the wet conditions, I felt good straight away. I just put my head down then ran into a few issues with my quick shifter. I had to re-learn how to ride the bike again without it. When Alvaro Bautista came past me I could see that he was better than me in some areas, but I was better in some others. I was trying to learn and adapt to not having a quick shifter. It was difficult, especially off the gas while on the edge of the tyre, with negative torque from the engine. It was so easy to be at full angle and lose the rear. The harder I pushed the more issues I had, but the problem is that when you see Alvaro going away, and the gap coming down to Toprak behind, you are trying, and trying so hard. So it was a nervous race and the conditions were not as grippy as they were in the November WorldSBK round. The pre-race target was a podium and we got that, and took a bag full of points. On the grid I felt the race could have been for us, but not today.”

Alex Lowes, stated: “I was happy with my lap time in Superpole qualifying. It is so close and tight in WorldSBK now I knew it was going to be important, and it was also the first time that I have used the SC0s. It wasn’t the best preparation. But the lap I did in Superpole I was happy with. It is the best lap I have done here and the best I could do. In the race, I felt great. I went out and did two sighting laps and I knew in those conditions I could be strong on the Kawasaki. Straight away, from the first corners, I put myself in a good position. But, we had major problems with rear grip off-gas, in the middle of the corners. So when Toprak Razgatlioglu passed me I knew I was in a bit of trouble. I was going to be happy even with a top six finish at the start of the year but then I had a big highside in the middle of Turn Two. We have checked the data and it was a strange crash. As much as I would like to say I got a bit excited, and that wanted to get on the podium, and that I made a mistake, that wasn’t the case. But, I am OK after a big crash and we got away with it. I have to more chances in the races tomorrow.”

Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) went out of the opening race in his comeback season with a technical problem, with Oliver König (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) experiencing a similar situation that put him out of the running.

2023 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics

Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2023: Races 1, Wins 0, Podiums 1, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 118 (103 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 246 (204 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 40 (36 for Kawasaki)

Alex Lowes:
2023: Races: 1, Wins 0, Podiums 0, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 33 (13 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: 177 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 524 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 105 – second overall


Source: Kawasaki Racing Team

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