Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ official riding line-up will feature record-breaking five-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea aboard the latest race specification Ninja ZX-10RR. Joining him is exciting new signing for the 2020 season, Alex Lowes.
The well-attended launch took place in KRT’s European HQ, with the on-stage elements hosted by WorldSBK paddock show host Michael Hill inside the very workshops that have been instrumental in propelling Kawasaki riders to the top in recent seasons.
At the end of the on-stage interviews – conducted on sofas and in the form of a late night TV chat show - the latest livery and sponsorship package was displayed on a video screen, just before the covers came off the Ninja ZX-10RR itself. Prominent Motocard, Elf Total, Monster Energy and Showa branding was displayed, alongside other valued commercial and technical partners.
With winter testing in Europe now complete - in the usual monochrome winter tests colours - Jonathan Rea was finally resplendent in his new leathers at the team launch. He answered the question of how it feels to face another season laden with opportunities. “We have had a solid pre-season where I felt fast and consistent and the target is to win another championship - for the team, Kawasaki and myself. Tonight is the start of another great year together.”
The five times champion could feel the sense of anticipation building in front of his team’s literal home crowd. “This is the time when it all becomes real and it is really fitting to do it in our team workshop where all the hard work goes in preparing our bike and our season,” said the most successful WorldSBK rider in history. “It has been particularly nice to do it in front of many of our sponsors and the family and friend of our mechanics. Not long until the season starts now!”
Proven WorldSBK race winner and former BSB Champion Alex Lowes said about the final unveiling of his 2020 package, “I have been with the team for a few months now but we have had the chance to show our supporters and sponsors the final colours for our championship challenge tonight. It has been great to be part of this team and it was really nice to be seen in Kawasaki green for the first time. This has been a fantastic event, especially with all the team here in their own regular working environment. After this, it is down to Australia for the first race of the season.”
Steve Guttridge - Racing Manager for KME - took time away from organising the whole 2020 KME racing programme to attend the launch and he was impressed with what he saw. “It is an honour to be here today to represent Kawasaki, including our employees all around the world that follow and support our WorldSBK team and riders,” said Steve. “Genuinely, we can all say how proud we are of our Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK squad and the continued success that we have enjoyed together.”
As Steve affirmed, it has been quite a partnership between all the parties who have contributed to the ongoing success of the entire Kawasaki WorldSBK project.
“Eight years ago we started a new history that - at the time - was a big step for Kawasaki Motors Europe, as we were charged by our headquarters in Japan with all aspects of managing the official project, along with KHI and the team. We commissioned Provec Racing to move up a category to the premier league of World Superbike for the 2012 season and always enjoyed strong support from a small but very clever group of KHI engineers in Japan, all of whom started working on the Ninja ZX-10RR as a race orientated base machine to fit our riders perfectly ever since.”
Steve continued, “Already by 2013 we had won the title with Mr. Tom Sykes, narrowly missing the title in 2014 and then of course enjoying the run of 5 consecutive, record breaking seasons with our own Jonathan Rea here today and this overall success story truly was our dreams come true.”
Stressing that it is a team effort not just at races, but in every step of the process, Guttridge underlined that more success is the aim for all in green in 2020, despite all the targets that have been met in previous years.
“We have believed together and achieved together as a team and manufacturer, so with this also came five consecutive manufacturers’ and teams’ titles too!” he happily stated. “We have to say a massive thank you to the entire crew of Kawasaki Racing Team and KHI staff for the teamwork that they put in together, along with our trusted technical partners whom are always behind us, working for the same goals. We are looking forward to what the future holds and of course all at Kawasaki will be 100% behind the team to provide whatever necessary for both Alex and Jonathan to go for victory again in this 2020 season.”
Joining Steve on stage shortly before the ‘big reveal’ of the latest livery, KRT Team Manager Guim Roda confirmed that he and his staff were motivated as ever. Not to mention very and proud to be able to have all the team’s partners and supporters made welcome in his literal home environment. “For the 2020 season, we decided to make the team launch in our KRT headquarters because we have improved our workshop environment and we wanted to show our friends and sponsors the place we work from to make all the racing activities for KRT in WorldSBK. This is a magic moment in which all the staff were involved, each one helping make this the most attractive launch possible.”
With so much recent success behind Kawasaki’s official WorldSBK effort Roda is aware that KRT is the team to beat once again. “We have in the next months a very hard job to do, because expectations – again - are so high and this do not allow us to have big margin to not keep winning. To win is a result of the job well done. To make good job it is very important to have the correct working environment to make the job in the best way possible. Today we hosted the team launch from the base we want to keep making WorldSBK history from with our riders Rea and Lowes.”
As the team now packs up for the first of the 13-rounds that will make up the 2020 season, the first official WorldSBK test will take place at Phillip Island, on Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 February. Race weekend in Australia will start on Friday 28 February and finish on Sunday, the first day of March.