Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK riders Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes have successfully completed an intense two day test at their team’s home circuit of Montmeló, with Rea setting the best lap of all during this morning’s slightly cooler session.
Although both official KRT riders worked on machine and tyre set-up to suit the hot conditions they expect to experience at the next few races, they were also fast over one lap. Rea set a best-of-test 1’40.450 single lap time and Lowes was fourth overall with his 1’41.137.
Hot and dry weather conditions characterised this test at the new-for-WorldSBK circuit of Montmeló, with both KRT riders enjoying the full experience of testing their machines around the challenging 4.627km layout.
In all, 17 WorldSBK riders were at the Montmeló circuit for this test, giving Lowes and Rea a good reference of their main competitors’ performance levels after a long halt to the 2020 season.
This test had two main uses for the entire KRT squad, which is based just a short distance from the track itself. The first was a final on-track preparation before the season restarts at Jerez in a few weeks. Secondly, it was ideal preparation for the Catalunya race weekend itself, which is scheduled for the weekend of 18th to 20th September.
The WorldSBK season will restart for real - after what will be almost a five month break due to the global Covid-19 pandemic - at Jerez de la Frontera with race days on the first and second of August.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “This morning I used a race tyre, the soft tyre and then two qualifying tyres. That was the target this morning – to work on ultimate pace and see what we could do. After that we started to work with the set-up again and tried to confirm some items on the front to give me some more stability. We backed-to-backed both bikes to find if we confirmed the set-up of what we arrived with at the Misano test. I preferred that to my old base set-up so it seems like we have moved our base set-up away from what I had. I don’t know if that is because the temperature suits that kind of bike set-up or if my riding style has evolved during this lockdown period and it has changed. But what I am requesting from the bike now I have a good feeling with this one. In the afternoon I waited for the temperature to be at the maximum to do two longer runs on both bikes to understand some test items. We felt pretty happy and now we look forward to Jerez.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “In the final hour or so we put everything together what we had found positives with and the bike was working really well. We did more laps than I thought - 107 today - so a busy one. But I am really happy with such a positive second day here. This is still a learning process and with the amount of laps I have done I am trying to learn as quickly as possible. I am happy with my pace this afternoon, it was strong and a little bit faster than I expected, which is always nice. After such a long break in the season it has been easier to get back into the swing of things than I thought but it will be nice to get a couple of weeks off now before the back-to-back races that restart the season. My pace with the used tyres is more competitive than with the new tyres, same as we saw in Phillip Island. Luckily for me we have had the same characteristic here. On used tyres I am feeling good with the bike. Joining this team, every day I am learning more. It is a fantastic team and I am enjoying it a lot.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “Our test has been really, really positive. We had some info from the last test here in January that we collected for this test. We started with that base set-up and then we focused to understand the hot conditions and how to use the tyres. This track is very demanding on tyres, and it is the key point. We have been very focused on making a good lap time and working over a long distance. I am very happy because we reached all the targets that we put on the paper and Johnny was also the fastest one – this morning when the track temperature was cooler. We used a qualifying soft tyre and took the fastest lap. We also confirmed some items we tested in Misano and I feel very good. Johnny is in very good shape after the long break because of Covid-19 and he did a great job here; very calm and working well.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Alex Lowes, stated: “We had a very good test and we are prepared for the second race of the season at Jerez. We know we should have very hot conditions there. We started off with a base set-up and then understood in which direction we needed to work when it is hot and slippery. That is what we achieved. Alex is fast and consistent. Over half race distance it was quite impressive, so this makes us very confident. I think in the end we made the most laps of anyone at this test and we have a happy rider. We are ready now for Jerez.”
Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, stated: “We have finished in Montmeló and it has been a good test. Our conclusions are positive because after two days we can understand much better how the track is working. In September, for the race, it should still be quite hot, so the information from this test will be so useful. The riders enjoyed the track a lot and we could see how the other riders’ lap times were. We can see how everybody has tried to understand the position of the competition. I think in general everybody in WorldSBK has been happy to be here and from our side it has been incredible so now we wait to come back again for the race.”