Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes each scored a close race victory on the second day of the opening round of the 2020 WorldSBK Championship, with Rea winning the ten-lap Tissot-Superpole race and Lowes the full distance final contest, after a thrilling WorldSBK weekend in Australia.
The final race of the weekend, over 22-laps, featured up to nine riders in the leading group, even at half race distance, but it was Lowes and Rea who made the decisive moves to go 1-2 in warm and dry conditions. Lowes was just 0.037 seconds ahead of Rea across the line, with Scott Redding 0.849 seconds behind Alex.
As temperatures rose for the final long race the leading bunch were closely packed but even as riders dropped off the group one by one there were four potential race winners again with just a couple flaps to go.
In the ten-lap Tissot-Superpole race, held at 12.00 noon today, Rea showed all his five time championship winning quality to pass race leader Toprak Razgatlioglu and hold on across the line for his first win of the year. Lowes, so close to being the opening race winner on Saturday, was fourth in the sprint race, just over 0.2 seconds from his new team-mate.
Rea’s Superpole race victory was particularly poignant as he received news overnight of the passing of his maternal grandmother back home in Northern Ireland. He dedicated his 89th career race win to his family.
In both races constant overtakes and aggressive passes were commonplace as the 2020 season started in an incredibly competitive fashion.
After his strong debut weekend on the Ninja ZX-10RR Lowes now leads the championship with 51 points. Rea is fourth overall on 32 points after his race one no-score on Saturday.
Qatar will now host the next round of the championship, under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit, between 13 and 15 March.
Alex Lowes, stated: “I knew when it got a lot hotter it was going to play into our hands as Marcel, my crew chief, had forced me to work really hard on old tyres in practice! When the grip dropped I knew I was going to be more comfortable than the other guys. In the second race there were so many people hitting everybody, Johnny trying to control the pace and Baz hit me a few times. It was hard just to stay calm but each time by past the pitbox I said to myself, ‘relax, stay calm, you have go the pace for the next ten laps - relax, relax.’ In the end, luckily, I had a bit more grip than the other guys and won race two. A great start here with Kawasaki. Obviously this track is a little bit strange so I need to just enjoy the moment, go to Qatar and refresh. We will see how we stack up but I am really happy with the first weekend.”
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I got a good start in the Superpole race and put my head down. It seemed like I was really setting the rhythm with a few laps to go. Toprak was showing me his front wheel, so I knew he was there. On the last lap, throwing the bike down the inside line, I knew I had a little bit more traction. I really wanted to win that Superpole race for my family. It would have been nice to do it again in that second one but it was very strange race. I did not have the experience of doing 22 laps from race one on Saturday. I was not sure how the bike would be. The temperature went to 45°C on track today too. Nobody seemed to want to come through and do the work. I set about my rhythm and with five laps to go I put my head down - but as soon as I completed this lap I felt a drop in the tyre again. Alex got by me and made a gap and although I had a close ride up to him on the last lap it was just not enough to get to the line first. We got to Qatar now and see what that brings. Yesterday we were 25 points behind, today we are 19 behind, so a positive day all-in-all after yesterday.”
Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 12th and 11th today, to sit 14th overall. Maximilian Scheib (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) had a very strong Sunday; finishing tenth in the Superpole race and then seventh in race two for 11th overall in the championship standings. Sandro Cortese (Outdo Kawasaki TPR) was 11th and then ninth in the races, for 12th place after the opening round.