Courtesy of KRT – Kawasaki Racing Team
Kawasaki Racing Team rider Jonathan Rea rode from pole to the chequered flag in the lead of the opening WorldSBK race of the Portimao race weekend, recording his third race victory of the 2020 season. KRT rider Alex Lowes was a battling fourth.
In warm and dry conditions at the undulating 4.592km circuit in Portugal five times champion Rea took his personal race win tally at this venue to ten. Jonathan eased out to an early lead that would grow to over five seconds at the flag from Toprak Razgatlioglu.
Today’s race win was the 150th for Kawasaki in the overall history of the FIM Superbike World Championship since the start in 1988.
Rea took his first long distance race victory of the season, after winning the ten-lap Tissot-Superpole races in Australia and, most recently, Spain.
In Tissot-Superpole Rea took his 24th career success in this specialised aspect of a WorldSBK race weekend, earning the best starting position. Lowes, having worked hard on his race set-up in this his first Portimao ride for Kawasaki, was third on the grid after a strong Superpole performance.
Alex lost some initial ground in the race and was passed by some of his rivals before improving his understanding of his set-up at the tricky Portimao hillside circuit. He was to get to within 2.8 seconds of the podium places.
After the opening race of the Portimao weekend, and with the championship points leader Scott Redding finishing only seventh today, Jonathan rode to within eight points of the leader. Alex is fourth overall, 22 points from the lead.
There is a lot of racing left in the Portuguese weekend, as Rea and Lowes will now face one ten lap Tissot-Superpole race and then a second full 20-lap race two, both to be held on Sunday 9 August.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “A great weekend so far. We arrived focused on the race and we knew it was going to be a hot 20 laps. The work we have been doing in the summer in the ‘pre-season’ before the restart has been really good, especially in the heat. I was able to understand the level of tyre drop and adjust my position on the bike accordingly. I really enjoyed the race because when the gap on the pit board is increasing, it is a lot of fun. Thanks to all the Kawasaki Racing Team because I think we got the best out of the Ninja ZX-10RR today. We learned a lot for tomorrow as I think this is the first time I did 20 laps in succession this weekend. Just at the end of the race there are still some things we can try to improve for tomorrow. All-in-all, a really positive day.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “I chose the SCX rear tyre and to be honest I do not think it was working so well in the afternoon because I had so many big slides at the start. Like all the other guys I had some problems with the front grip at the end but I felt that I could manage quite well and I kept my pace. For my first proper go in attack mode around here on the Kawasaki, I have had quite a good day and I am hoping to make some improvements for tomorrow. I was hoping I could challenge for the podium but unfortunately not. I think I can improve myself a bit and we can also improve the bike set-up, so our target is to do a bit better on Sunday.”
Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 14th today and Maximilian Scheib (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) 21st. Sandro Cortese (Outdo Kawasaki TPR) suffered a crash in the final lap and was taken to hospital by helicopter to ascertain the extent of his injuries. Everyone in the Kawasaki family wishes him a speedy recovery.
2020 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019
2020: Races 7, Wins 3, Podiums 5, Superpoles 1
Career Race Wins: 90 (75 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 173 (131 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 24 (20 for Kawasaki)
2020: Races: 7, 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: 150 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 440 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 89 – second overall