The Catalunya based Kawasaki Racing Team will make its final major step to restarting the WorldSBK season with a two day test at the Montmeló circuit, located less than a kilometre from their headquarters in Granollers, near Barcelona. Testing will take place between the eighth and ninth of July and will also feature many of the championship’s main competitors.
Five times WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea and early 2020 championship points leader Alex Lowes have already ridden their Ninja ZX-10RR machines during a short but important test session at Montmeló in late January. The 4.627km long circuit has been a regular host to MotoGP events for many years but this season it will feature a WorldSBK race weekend for the very first time.
KRT has already started its journey back into the 2020 season overall with a two-day test at Misano in Italy last month, with both riders finding positives to take into the forthcoming tests at Montmeló.
Great care was taken at the Misano test to prevent the transmission of the Covid-19 virus that has brought all forms of international motorsport to a virtual halt since the first round of WorldSBK on the first day of March. Those precautions will be continued and enhanced at the Montmeló tests, especially as there will be more participants in the paddock than were present at Misano.
The Montmeló test will be particularly important one as it is the final full WorldSBK track session for the team before they relocate to Andalusia for the restart of the 2020 season. The first of four races to be held in relatively quick succession in Iberia will begin at Jerez de la Frontera, with racedays scheduled for Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd August.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I have been enjoying ‘van life’ and I stayed out in Misano after the test. I have been pretty much cycling around Italy with Fabien Foret and my mate Gaz for a good few days, in the campground I often stay at in Misano while observing social distancing. I have been cycling a lot, basically smashing the pedals. I also stopped off at Andrew Pitt’s place in Lucca. He is an old team-mate of mine and when he retired I ended up staying at his place for a couple of months a few years ago. It was good to be able to hit the roads on the bicycle that I used to ride there in the Tuscan hills. At Fabien’s we also did a bit of riding with Regis Laconi – even though we cycled at the correct distance from each other he definitely knows how to pedal a bicycle, I will tell you that much! So I have been full gas training since Misano. Thinking about Lockdown as an athlete, it was a strange period. We did not know when we would ride the racebike again so having no fixed date I was just trying to brush up with things I have struggled with in the past, like flexibility, and try to drop a couple of kilos safely, which managed to do. I feel in really good place and I am just trying to take my foot off the gas a little bit now because it is coming up to crunch time. We will go to Montmeló for testing now. It is super-fast and flowing and really suits my natural style. We got an afternoon there at the start of the season to do our team video shoot and I enjoyed the place. Now we will get to ride the track with all our main competitors. We were right in the mix testing at Misano, as far as lap time and consistency goes. I started feeling good with the bike again and I left there feeling great. Feeling comfortable with the bike before we go to Jerez for the race weekend will be the most important thing.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “I have been staying close to Misano at my brother’s house. His fiancé is Italian so we had some family time and also some training, which has been nice. I spent a couple days on my new KX250 motocross bike and had some nice mountain bike rides around the San Marino area. Right now I am in Barcelona, close to the team’s workshop and we will stay here until after the Portimao race. When we tested at Montmeló in January we didn’t have very good weather so although I have some knowledge of the track I didn’t fully get to get my teeth into it. Now I have a better understanding of the bike it’s going to be great to ride the circuit in full-on mode because my first impressions of Montmeló were really good. I need to work on a couple of things with my riding that my crew chief Marcel and I identified from the recent Misano test. We’re also looking to improve the rear of the bike, from a set up point of view. Although I’ve been with the team eight months or so now I am still learning the ZX-10RR. I really enjoying that process so I can’t wait to get back out!”
Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, stated: “It is so special to make this test in Montmeló, which is so close to our KRT headquarters. We are just 1km from the circuit. Will be very interested to see many WorldSBK competitors will ride, for the first time all together, at the Circuit of Catalunya. For sure it will be very good to compare our references with those of the other riders, and from then on start to work to set up the bike for this track. Of course, we will continue working in our Covid-19 mode, with a target to keep the Paddock safe from the spread of the virus. I know everybody in KRT is particularly motivated for this test and the race itself in September!”