Courtesy of KRT – Kawasaki Racing Team
Recently crowned five-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea took his KRT Ninja ZX-10RR to second place in the opening day’s free practice sessions under the floodlit conditions at Losail in Qatar. Leon Haslam (KRT) was 12th fastest as he re-learns the circuit layout.
The 5.380km long Losail International Circuit provides a unique end to the WorldSBK season and on the first night of action Jonathan Rea scored second best time, as he works towards a final race set-up for tomorrow’s Tissot-Superpole qualifying session and Race One.
Rea enters the second day in Losail looking for a small improvement in his overall handling package, at what he rates as one of his favourite circuits of the year.
Haslam, who has not ridden the Losail circuit layout for some time, is still working on the finer parts of track knowledge. He was still only 1.3 seconds down on the fastest rider at this long and technical circuit, but expects to make up more ground on the second day of action to prepare himself fully for the opening race of the meeting.
Although the practice sessions are held at night time in Qatar the high humidity and air temperatures still presented a degree of challenge for riders and teams to overcome. At 20.00 in the air temperature was recorded at 30°C, although the best lap times were still more than respectable for the opening day.
FP3 on Friday will be followed by Tissot-Superpole qualifying and then a full distance 17-lap Race One.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I had a good day and we understood the tyre options for the weekend a little bit. The track rubbered-in really quickly and FP1 was fast already. In the second session we worked on our consistency and pace. I feel quite good. The bike is working really well where I need it work. In some areas I need a little bit more turning, especially in the fast areas. I am putting too much stress on the tyre, using too much angle to get the bike to turn. But for a first day, I feel quite good. You always want to finish the season with a good feeling and that is important. Of course we have a big target to try and win the Manufacturers’ Award for Kawasaki; that is very important.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “It has not been coming that easy. The last time I was here was as a wild card and we missed most of the practices then, so we are still did consistent low 1’58s, so we are still playing a little bit of catch-up getting up to speed with the track. I feel we have a good direction but the short FP3 sessions are hard work. Step-by-step and we will make a few more steps for tomorrow. Hopefully we can figure out a few of our problems overnight and get a little bit closer to that fight for the top five.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) finished his first day at Losail in fourth place, finding some front tyre push on the right hand corners but still ranked the top independent rider of the day. He is in the thick of the fight for overall third place with three points scoring races to go, starting with Race One on Friday evening at 20.00 hrs, local time.
Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) began the final round of the year in 15th place overall after FP1 and FP2. Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) worked his way to 16th place at Losail on day one.
2019 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019
2019: Races 34, Wins 14, Podiums 31, Superpoles 6
Career Race Wins: 85 (70 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 165 (123 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 22 (18 for Kawasaki)
2019: Races: 34, Wins 0, Podiums 6, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 5 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 45 (7 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 3 (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)
4 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017 & 2018)
5 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 143 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 430 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 87 – second overall