In the first race of the FIM Superbike World Championship round in Estoril Jonathan Rea took the new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR to third place, just under one second from the race winner Scott Redding.
In the first 21-lap race of the weekend Rea was third on lap one and then fourth on lap two, but fought his way back to third, with a harder rear tyre choice than his two main rivals paying dividends in some areas and then costing fractions of a second in other places.
Rea had a hard fight in the final laps with second place finisher Toprak Razgatlioglu but was not quite able to pass at the end. Jonathan’s third place was his fourth podium in four starts this season so far.
In Superpole Rea was once again the top rider after his first round success in Motorland Aragon recently, taking a new track best of 1’35.876 before Race One got underway. It was his 29th career Superpole success but a quarter century of pole positions with KRT as today delivered his 25th Superpole since joining Kawasaki’s official WorldSBK squad in 2015.
Lowes was originally classified third in Superpole but under new yellow flag warning rules he and several other riders lost their fastest laps of the Superpole session as they had to enter a yellow flag area to complete their lap on the sticky Qualifying tyres. Lowes was forced to start from the fourth row of the grid, not the first row, as a consequence.
From his tenth place off the grid Lowes was fighting hard to get back into the big points scoring positions. He got up to fifth before he fell at Turn Seven on lap nine. Alex got going again but did not score points and finished 19th.
Now Jonathan and Alex will face the ten-lap Tissot Superpole Race on Sunday 30 May, and then the final 21-lap Race Two later that day. After the Estoril weekend has been completed, Misano in Italy will host round three, between June 11 to 13.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Yesterday I thought that this race would be a little bit different. We made the bike much better today and winning Superpole helped to have track position in the first lap. But it is such a long start straight at Estoril I was just a gauge for other people making a holeshot to brake. I made a mistake and Rinaldi came past. When he did that I just lost grip a little bit and I had to work so hard to catch back up. I was getting there, and I felt my rhythm was the same as the leading guys at the end. I was just not really sure where I could pass. I am happy to be on the podium because I was terrible here last year. I never found a rhythm with the track. This morning I felt like I had a good rhythm and continued that today. It was quite clear to see where I was losing and it is very hard to rectify that right now. Step-by-step, we are improving.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “My best qualifying lap got cancelled which is frustrating but the rule is the rule. I tried to come through from tenth and I was probably pushing a bit too much. I knew that my pace especially in the second half of the race was similar to Jonathan in all the practice sessions. I made a good start, I had already come from tenth to fifth, made some good passes, and then into Turn Seven it was windy, I was a little bit wide and I made a mistake. It was my mistake. It was a shame because all weekend I have been quite fast but for sure qualifying did not help. But the positive thing is that last year I was really struggling at this track but today - although we did not achieve a front row start - we were fast enough to be on the front row in qualifying and my pace has been quite good all weekend. We have got two more races on Sunday tomorrow so we are lucky that we get to try again.”
Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) placed 13th in the first Estoril race after a strong seventh place in Superpole. Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki rider Isaac Vinales was 17th, Loris Cresson (TPR Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was 20th but Samuele Cavalieri (TPR Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) retired and no-scored.
2021 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2021: Races 4, Wins 2, Podiums 4, Superpoles 2
Career Race Wins: 101 (86 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 189 (147 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 29 (25 for Kawasaki)
2021: Races: 4, Wins 0, Podiums 3, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 27 (7 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: 160 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 461 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 94 – second overall