The opening FIM Superbike World Championship race at Misano in Italy was held in hot conditions, with track temperatures of over 50°C proving a challenge for all 22 riders on the grid.
On the new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR championship leader Jonathan Rea was sitting behind eventual race winner and long time leader Michael Ruben Rinaldi until Jonathan suffered a front end slide that almost caused him to crash. He held the bike up on his knee-slider and did not crash but he lost his second place, eventually finishing third for his 150th Kawasaki WorldSBK podium visit.
He also set a new lap record of 1’34.476 on lap two, as he pushed the pace to try and break free of the leading group.
Earlier in the day Rea had taken his third Superpole win of the season, again at record pace, with a 1’33.416 lap time. This success gave him another landmark in his stellar WorldSBK career - 30 Superpole wins in all.
Starting Race One from sixth place after Superpole Lowes was to finish the day in fifth place after finding less front end confidence in the hot conditions than he expected. After a couple of slides from the front he concentrated on his overall race pace and consolidating his position to finish inside the top five.
Now Jonathan and Alex will face the ten-lap Tissot Superpole Race on Sunday 13 June, and then the final 21-lap Race Two later that same day.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Saving a possible crash was more lucky than anything. I chose the new front tyre for this race. I used it in Superpole and felt quite good but we did not have a lot of information after ten laps in all. It seems like the temperature, especially in the race, meant I cooked the tyre too much. It started moving quite a lot. When I rejoined the track and had a gap up to Toprak it felt better, not perfect, but better. So tomorrow we need to revisit things to see if we can be fast with our ‘normal’ front tyre. The new one brought some confidence on the brakes but we need to be able to fight at the end of the race. My pace was still OK for the last laps but the moment I had in Turn One disturbed my rhythm and let Michael get away. He did fantastic today and the pace at the front was really good. I think tomorrow we can make a small step with the bike because I learned a lot from Michael and Toprak in Race One. Tomorrow we should be better prepared.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “I was a lot worse than I expected today. In the practices I thought, ‘I feel good,’. I set lots of good laps and changed the bike a little bit on the front. In the race I didn’t have the feel I needed and from the first laps I was struggling with releasing the brake and carrying some corner speed. The front was moving a lot. I had a couple of warnings so I did not have the confidence to push like I expected. It was a shame because I hoped to be a bit faster but this was my first time racing here on the Kawasaki and obviously the temperatures came up for the race too. So we have good information for tomorrow.”
Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) secured a strong 11th place finish after starting from seventh place on the grid. Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki rider Isaac Vinales was 17th in Race One, mirroring his Superpole starting place. Samuele Cavalieri (TPR Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was 19th in Race One and Loris Cresson (TPR Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was 20th.
2021 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2021: Races 7, Wins 4, Podiums 7, Superpoles 3
Career Race Wins: 103 (88 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 192 (150 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 30 (26 for Kawasaki)
2021: Races: 7, 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: 162 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 464 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 95 – second overall