On a wet track surface the incident-packed opening 21-lap race of the WorldSBK weekend in France saw Jonathan lead almost immediately, after the riders in first and second position off the startline collided and fell in turn one. Rea made the most of good start and a clear track to push the pace hard on the resurfaced Magny Cours asphalt. He would end up winning by a clear 3.342 seconds.
Lowes was in second place on lap one and after some battles with other riders he went into fourth and eventually his final third position, using a cool head in the tricky conditions to secure his third podium finish of the year so far.
In Tissot-Superpole, also held in wet conditions, Rea recovered well enough from a small crash in the early morning FP3 session to go third fastest, earning a front row starting position. Just one place behind, Lowes was fourth, and started race one from the second row of the grid.
In winning today Jonathan took not only his 98th WorldSBK race victory but also extended his championship lead over Scott Redding – fifth in race one – to 65 points.
Two more WorldSBK races remain for Jonathan and Alex at Magny Cours on Sunday - the 10-lap Superpole ‘sprint’ race and then a full 21-lap finale to wrap-up the penultimate round of the championship.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It was super-hard to keep concentration for all 21 laps at the front. The pace was ridiculous but that is down to a few things. We had a good set-up on the Ninja ZX-10RR but also Magny Cours did a really good job of the new tarmac. Last year in these conditions a 1’53/54 was a good lap time, and now are doing 1’48/49s in the wet conditions. Massive thanks to my team, and everyone around, because I think we got the best out of the bike. You can never have a perfect set-up for the wet, because the conditions are always changing. Sometimes it is fully wet, sometimes there is just a little bit of water, then sometimes even a drying track. Overall our set-up for the rain was very good.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “The first part of the race I felt quite good. In the second part I did not feel that good under hard braking, as the front was sliding a lot. Because I had a bit of a gap behind I just tried to manage the situation. I think we can improve a bit for tomorrow, of course, but I am happy to be back on the podium in these conditions. I have a lot of experience of riding around here in the rain from past seasons, but after the resurfacing it is like a different track. All the braking markers and tip-in points I remember from the past in the rain, you may as well completely forget them!”
Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finished eighth today, equalling his previous best finish in the 2020 season. Valentin Debise (Outdo Kawasaki TPR) was 14th and Xavier Pinsach (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) 15th, meaning each of them scored championship points in what was a very difficult opening race in such wet conditions.
2020 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019
2020: Races 19, Wins 10, Podiums 16, Superpoles 4
Career Race Wins: 98 (83 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 184 (142 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 27 (23 for Kawasaki)
2020: Races: 19, Wins 1, Podiums 3, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 23 (3 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 1 (0 for Kawasaki)
7 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
5 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017, 2018 & 2019)
5 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 157 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 452 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 92 – second overall