In a dramatic opening WorldSBK race at Jerez Rea competed for a podium finish after starting from pole. With some mid-corner issues with front end feel and confidence Rea lost positions to first Alvaro Bautista and then both official Yamaha riders.
Swapping positions with Alex Lowes in the second half of the race, held in ambient conditions that almost touched 30°C, Rea was fourth with one lap to go and closed in on Lowes in the last few corners.
In an attempted pass on Lowes into the slow final left hander they touched, and Lowes fell. Rea was initially classified third, and took part in the podium ceremony, but the FIM WorldSBK Stewards Panel issued a sanction to Rea that means he drops one position to fourth in the final race classification, and has to start the next race from the back of the grid.
For Haslam it was a tough opening contest in Jerez after he experienced front end grip issues early in the 20-lap race. Starting from fifth place on the grid after Superpole he dropped to eighth on lap one, fighting all the way to earn his ninth place and more championship points.
Rea’s Superpole pace was such that his new track best sits at 1’38.247 – a pleasant early outcome at a circuit he had never taken a pole position at before.
On Sunday 9 June there will be two WorldSBK races to complete the Jerez weekend, one ten-lap Tissot-Superpole race and then a second full distance race in the afternoon.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Our bike, with grip, was working incredibly well today, especially in the morning in the cooler conditions. I was able to build into that Superpole lap with a three stop strategy – first with a race tyre, then with a pre-qualifier and then at the end with the qualifying tyre. With the temperatures rising in the afternoon, maybe a combination of that, or what we changed on the rear of the bike a little, I really struggled right at the apex of the corners to turn around. It was putting so much stress on the front tyre. I tried to do the best I could, but when Alvaro came past it was on a completely different rhythm. I found myself on a similar pace to Alex. On the last lap I tried to be as close as possible to do something in the last corner. I saw him going wide on the racing line so I decided to do a cutback and go to the inside. Unfortunately at that point he was fully committed to the corner, I did not got through far enough, we had contact and he went down. I am really sorry for ending his race but it was a real racing accident; last lap, last corner battle.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “We struggled from lap one with front grip, especially on the right side. The pace at the end, once I had adapted my style not to use any angle on the right hand side, was not too bad, but honestly I felt I was just tiptoeing round at that speed. It was frustrating. It was a long race for sure and we need to analyse why we have been touching this problem a few times this weekend but it was the worst we have had in the race.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) scored fifth place in the race after taking 11th position in the grid after Superpole. Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) retired from the race while in ninth position. In his comeback ride after suffering a wrist injury in April, Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 13th.
2019 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018
2019: Races 14, Wins 2, Podiums 13, Superpoles 2
Career Race Wins: 73 (58 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 147 (105 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 18 (14 for Kawasaki)
2019: Races: 13, Wins 0, Podiums 2, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 5 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 41 (3 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: 129 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 396 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 83 – second overall