KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes were first and seventh fastest respectively on the new model of Ninja ZX-10RR at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona supported tests. For this first time in the build-up to the 2021 season Lowes and Rea were riding against the vast majority of their WorldSBK rivals.
Rea was fast from the start on Wednesday March 31, as he continued to work on getting comfortable at the highest possible pace, on what is a heavily revised new Ninja ZX-10RR. His best lap time of 1’40.264, set on day two, was 0.179 seconds faster than his closest rival and was completed using a soft race tyre, not a Q tyre.
Lowes, who has missed some testing through injury recently, worked his way through all the items he and his team had to test or confirm, despite some discomfort from his shoulder on day one. After set-up changes and a night’s rest his pace and physical condition improved greatly on the final day. His best lap time of 1’41.195, using a race tyre, saw him seventh out of the 20 regular WorldSBK riders on show.
Kawasaki’s new Ninja ZX-10RR features engine, chassis and aerodynamic advances compared to the previous model with higher peak engine revs and front winglets integrated inside the new bodywork, generating significant extra downforce at high speed.
First used for WorldSBK racing in 2020, the Catalunya circuit featured one slightly modified section at Turn 10 for this test. Track conditions in general improved on day two after so much hard use from the top WorldSBK riders.
The first points-scoring championship race will take place at Motorland Aragon between 21-23 May, but there is more Motorland testing scheduled for the KRT duo before then, between 21-22 April.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It has been a positive two day test. In some of our previous testing we had been held up by the weather and this is the first time we have been on track with all our rivals. We have been satisfied with all the results. We tested many items on the bike from a chassis point of view, engine point of view and electronics. The new Ninja ZX-10RR is starting to feel really comfortable for me. On the final day we worked on our race set-up and I did a race simulation that got interrupted - but I was really happy with the pace, especially in the middle of the day, when we were trying to simulate the race time. We did a time attack at the end with the SCX tyre and I was able to be quite fast. We ended the test positively and we are looking forward to Motorland Aragon in a few weeks time, where we will continue to work our chassis and make more steps before round one.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “This test was really good for us although yesterday I struggled more than I expected with my shoulder. This track has a lot of changes of direction. In the afternoon I did not feel comfortable on the bike so we put on some strapping, but I think it made the shoulder worse, maybe because of the restriction. But, today I felt good. We finished a bit early, so I could not do a time attack at the end of the day, but my pace on race tyres was good. Low 1’41s; I am happy with that. I worked through all the list of priorities for this test and managed to get the whole thing done - that is why we finished a bit early. We have a good plan of what we need to work on in the remaining tests before the start of the season. A positive day overall so I am looking forward to going hime now, rebuilding my physical condition overall and getting back on the bike for Aragon.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “Here at Barcelona it has been positive. Jonathan never stops growing and this winter he has been hard with himself physically, mentally and it is amazing. He is still making steps forward, which is strange after six years of winning the championship, but he is maybe in the best form I have ever seen. In terms of the test, the technical things, we are happy because we confirmed things we tested already in Portimao and Jerez, but only for a short time then as we were sometimes disturbed by weather conditions. Here, we could do two complete days. This track is demanding in some areas and that is good. It has a long straight and we worked on some parts in the engine. It was very positive. We kept working on the electronics to improve the weakest points. From the chassis side we also used something from Showa, improving the balance. We tried a new link to understand some areas we like to improve a little bit, in terms of position and loading the rear. The only negative was the even though Johnny made the fastest lap of all, which was very good, we used a Q but it was not working the way we expected. We had another Q but we did not use it so Jonathan did his best time on an SCX tyre. I believe some of the other guys did their lap times with a Q tyre. We are happy with this test. We will go to the next test keeping making the package stronger.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Alex Lowes, stated: “It was a nice test for us. Yesterday the track was quite slippery and everybody was struggling a bit. Today we made some small changes to the bike set-up and Alex was riding very well, so we closed the gap to the top guys to only a few tenths of a second. In the end, making our best lap on race tyres when many people did their best laps on Qualifying tyres, we are very satisfied. We confirmed a couple of items from the winter tests again on a completely different track, different layout, different conditions, and we are very happy with the final result. Alex did around 150 laps in total. The track is a little bit different from last year, at Turn 10 but it is a small change. Overall, I am happy with the result of this test.”