On their Ninja ZX-10RR machines Rea and Lowes made their first important steps to find an optimum set-up for the first race on Saturday 8 August, and evaluate the track conditions at a circuit with many more track elevation changes than the previous venue of Jerez. Ambient weather conditions were much kinder than they were last weekend, with FP2 today held in 27°C and with a track temperature of 44°C.
Rea was faster in the afternoon session, recording his Friday best lap of 1’42.543, but Lowes set similar times in each of the two outings on his Ninja ZX-10RR, with his best morning mark of 1’43.203 almost identical to his afternoon high point.
The 4.592km circuit in Portimao is now starting to offer more grip with so much track action having taken place today in warm conditions. The early action in the support classes were held up by the lack of medical helicopter cover due to localised fog early this morning. The late beginning did not affect the circuit or eventual WorldSBK FP1 session starting time itself.
Saturday 8 August will see race one, over 20 laps, held at 14.00 local time in Portugal – which is one hour behind CET. A 10-lap Tissot-Superpole ‘sprint’, followed by the final 20-lap race two, will complete the Portuguese weekend on Sunday 9 August.
FP3 and then Superpole qualifying, to determine the final grid slots for all riders, will take place before race one on Saturday morning.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Today has been interesting because there is a lot less grip on the track than there was last season when we were able to be super fast from the early laps. This race weekend it took a little bit of time for the track to get some rubber down and we were able to go faster in the afternoon, even with hotter temperatures. That means that the track is getting better and better. We have been understanding the tyre options that are available to us. I made a longer run in the second session to understand how the bike is behaving and to set-up the electronics a little bit better for the end of the race. We have our front tyre choice all set for tomorrow and there is still a question mark over which rear tyre to use. We have some more time in the morning to understand. But the bike is working well over race distance already and I am feeling a lot better than I did at Jerez. The bike is ‘talking’ to me a little bit more and I understand what is happening when the grip drops. It has been pretty positive.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “Our opening day was pretty good and I am quite happy with the bike, really. I want to improve a little bit in some of the longer, faster corners; I am just missing a little bit of position in the front with the bike set-up. But I felt quite good during my long run this afternoon and did a lot of laps at the same pace as my best lap. Obviously, it is my first time here with the Kawasaki. Because I have done so many laps here on other bikes it is quite a lot different in terms of how to ride my Ninja ZX-10RR to get the best from it, so it takes a bit of time to understand how to ride some parts of the track. I think almost all the other guys tested here in February. I found a good feeling this afternoon and I think I am quite a bit better than I was in Jerez, so that is quite positive.”
Sandro Cortese (Outdo Kawasaki TPR) was best Independent Kawasaki rider in 14th place with Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) 16th and Maximilian Scheib (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) 18th overall after FP2.
2020 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019
2020: Races 6, Wins 2, Podiums 4, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 90 (75 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 172 (130 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 23 (19 for Kawasaki)
2020: Races: 6, Wins 1, Podiums 2, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 22 (2 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: 149 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 439 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 88 – second overall