As the venue for the next points-scoring round of the championship, between 6th and 8th September, Portimao has already hosted a KRT winter test, attended by both Rea and Haslam in late January.
The 4.952km long Portimao circuit is a favourite of Rea’s. Having won seven races there in the recent past the four-time champion could have no better venue to restart his season.
Rea leads the 2019 WorldSBK championship by 81 points after scoring the 79th and 80th race wins of his career at the previous round in the USA.
For Haslam - signed by KRT for the 2019 season after winning the BSB title for Kawasaki in 2018 - a return to Portimao may be particularly useful as he can compare his current machine setting to his previous data before getting back into the hunt for his much anticipated first race win of 2019.
Getting reacquainted with the official Ninja ZX-10RR and the Pirelli control tyres used in WorldSBK will be a priority for both KRT riders.
Leon and Jonathan will then face off against their rivals both this weekend in testing and when championship points become available again at Portimao, in what will be round ten of the 13-round season.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am really excited to start riding again. I enjoyed some time away from the track but after a couple of weeks I was desperate to ride my WorldSBK Ninja ZX-10RR again. It helped having the Suzuka 8 Hours race in the middle of the break. I did a lot of riding in the build up and the race but it is good to go to Portugal now because I miss my bike and my team. Portimao is a good track for us and the weather should be consistent. That should help us to get some test items confirmed, for both this season and looking to the future. I love the track there and cannot wait to get going!”
Leon Haslam, stated: “I am really looking forward to the Portimao test. Off the back of the Suzuka 8 Hours win it will be nice to get back on the WorldSBK bike with Pirelli tyres. We tested at Portimao at the start of the season and it went quite well. This year, being my first season back after a few years away from WorldSBK, all my podiums have come at circuits we have tested at. Obviously, I would like get three more solid podiums at the Portimao round come September, so this Portuguese test is very important.”
Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, stated: “This Portimao test is a good opportunity to put everybody in race mode after a long summer break in WorldSBK action. The last part of the championship is a very demanding one, which will prove the focus of everybody right to the end of this season, and their preparations for the next one. Nothing is decided until the chequered flag is shown, and five minutes more have been counted... So, we need to work hard and concentrate to take our best possible test and race results. Portimao itself is a very complex track. It is important to understand the limits of the bike and find the best set up to let the riders fight safety. It has a bumpy layout and in many key points the rider needs to understand how to take the best approach. Any lap at Portimao counts a lot in terms of preparation for the race.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) will also be in attendance at Portimao after scoring two of his seven 2019 podium places at the most recent round in the USA, in early July.
Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) enjoyed his best single race finish of the season and his best weekend points haul at Laguna last month. He now looks forward to finding an even more potent race set-up at the Portimao test.
At the recent Laguna Seca round Argentinean star Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) scored points in all three races for the first time in 2019, as he builds pace and confidence.
2019 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018
2019: Races 25, Wins 9, Podiums 22, Superpoles 4
Career Race Wins: 80 (65 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 156 (114 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 20 (16 for Kawasaki)
2019: Races: 25, Wins 0, Podiums 6, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 5 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 45 (7 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: 136 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 415 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 85 – second overall