Without the pressures of a regular race weekend and the limited opportunities available for experimentation then, both Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea were able to try out some alternative race set-ups on their 2021 Ninja ZX-10RRs.
These warm weather sessions also helped them and the technical staff make progress toward a suitable race set-up for the Catalunya WorldSBK race weekend itself, which will take place in mid-September.
The hot conditions of this test were particularly valuable as the next run of races will take place in Spain, France and Portugal, in what are likely to be much warmer conditions than those experienced in winter testing, and during the first few rounds of the 2021 season so far.
Barcelona-Catalunya’s 4.627km long track surface proved hot for both days of the test but Lowes took part only on day one, to give his niggling shoulder injury a rest before he takes on the challenge of the next championship round at Navarra.
Rea rode on both days, starting off during the afternoon of the first day and finding enhanced feedback from his machine while learning more about riding in hot track conditions with what is a new machine in several areas this season.
Stepping into the frame to help the KRT team run-in and check new braking systems before they are used in anger, 2002 WorldSSP Champion and former official Kawasaki WorldSSP rider Fabien Foret took over Lowes’ machine for a time on the final day. Fabien has been a race winner on large capacity Kawasaki machinery in the Endurance World Championship category in the mid 2010s and today was a happy opportunity to ride and understand the latest official Ninja ZX-10RR.
Usually the on-track ‘spotter’ for six-times champion Jonathan Rea at WorldSBK races, Foret was asked to help out and enjoyed his track-time on the latest Ninja ZX-10RR alongside Lowes’ technical staff, gleaning more insight into the bike’s nature and capabilities than he would normally do from only watching on trackside.
With another successful test session completed the real racing will start again soon. The new WorldSBK venue of the Circuito de Navarra hosts the seventh round of the championship between 20-22 August.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It has been a very positive test and it is always nice to test in the middle of the season to try out some ideas. We worked on many different items and we have already found a couple that improved the base package of the bike. We will continue working in that direction at the next round in Navarra, to confirm what we found here at a different track layout. I want to thank all the team, all the staff, because it has been very busy in the last few weeks and they gave 100% all through the test, working in very hot conditions. This test also gives us lots of information to start the Barcelona race weekend in a good way. I am looking forward to a couple of days relaxing before we get back on track soon to race at Navarra.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “It was a productive test for us on day one. Track temperatures where high and that allowed to us to try a few things. We managed to tick everything off the list we had planned and my feeling with the bike was good. Because of this we decided to skip the second day of testing to allow me more time to rest a shoulder injury that has been niggling me recently. Now our focus turns to the next race weekend in Navarra.”
Fabien Foret, stated: “I had a ‘mission’ to try to run-in some brake systems and it was a pleasure for me to sit on the bike. Also to feel the bike a little bit - and it was very interesting to see the character of the Ninja ZX-10RR to help me with my regular job. Maybe I will understand things even more. It was great today and such a good feeling to ride the bike, so I would like to thank everyone for the opportunity and I am happy to help the team have a better brake system on the bike.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “Our two-day test has been good. Yesterday we started just in the afternoon and to be working with 55°C on the track surface is not the best scenario in some ways - depending on which items you are testing. The second morning was more useful to test the items we had already evaluated in the hot conditions of the first afternoon. In the afternoon today we focused on other items like launch control, starting, because we were not looking for a lap time. I feel positive because Johnny had been pointing to a couple of areas, really deeply, where he was not very happy recently. Even in Assen when he won the races, but especially in Most. This was about suspension balance so we worked together with Showa and I think we made a good step forward. Not in terms of speed, but in terms of understanding feedback for the rider. Jonathan is happier in these areas after this test. The championship is more competitive this season so I think we have to use any small help, from any detail, everywhere on the bike. We have focused on these small things and I have to say I am positive to look towards Navarra.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Alex Lowes, stated: “Halfway through the season it is always nice to have a test because you realise after a couple of rounds where your strong points are and where your weak points are. So to have this test now is very useful. We shortened it to only one day because when the afternoon session was finished on day one we had done most of the things we had wanted to do. So we decided to give Alex some rest and not continue into the second day. We tried some new parts but the main focus was to improve our set-up, our base bike set-up, in hot conditions. We got a clear result from this.”
2021 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2021: Races 18, Wins 8, Podiums 16, Superpoles 6
Career Race Wins: 107 (92 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 201 (159 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 33 (29 for Kawasaki)
2021: Races: 18, Wins 0, Podiums 4, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 28 (8 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: 166 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 474 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 98 – second overall