Jonathan Rea (KRT) took his 100th career World SBK race win and his 85th victory for Kawasaki with a start-to-finish leading performance in the first race of the 2021 FIM Superbike World Championship season. Alex Lowes (KRT) shadowed his team-mate Rea in the early laps and showed great fighting qualities to finish second, starting the season with a Kawasaki 1-2 debut for the new Ninja ZX-10RR.
After a long winter the WorldSBK season began in great style for Kawasaki and the latest Ninja ZX-10RR, culminating in a podium-topping display from Rea and Lowes against a strong group of rivals.
In Superpole Rea set a new track best lap time of 1’48.458 in the relatively cool morning conditions of day two at Motorland. Lowes placed fourth after Superpole, putting himself at the head of the second row of the grid.
In the early laps of the opening race, started at 14.00 local time in Spain, Rea led and Lowes was second, stretching a joint lead of one second on the chasing pack in just two laps. That lead was extended to two seconds for Rea and he would have a calm and controlled ride all the way to the flag to take his famous win by almost four seconds.
Lowes started to drop back from Rea after experiencing two front end slides and he was eventually caught and passed by Toprak Razgatlioglu on lap 11. He was able to control his pace and then make a final push, using his advantages at just the right point of the final lap to take second place by 0.043 seconds.
Now Rea and Lowes will face two races on Sunday May 23; the short ten-lap Tissot Superpole ‘sprint’ race and then a second full distance 18-lap race to complete the first weekend’s return to race action since last October.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “We reached 100 race wins today and it was done with a lot of hard work. Over the off season Kawasaki really dug in with a new bike and we were able to make a step. Also in the off season I worked really hard on myself and I know I improved in all areas. I was born with the dream of racing motorbikes, and going with my parents to ride around Motocross tracks in 1993, ’94. The history is mad. Getting the opportunity to come to the world championship, in 2008 in Supersport, and straight away after my rookie season going to Superbike. Taking my first race win at Misano in 2009 as a rookie and now with 100 wins… It’s mad! Each and every race win is special, and I have never been a statistics guy, but when I was closing in on 100 wins that was a big goal. It is such a cool number and a career landmark. I am very proud of it. We had been a little bit unlucky in the winter tests with bad weather but my team have left no stone unturned and turned up at every test we could. They reorganised and rescheduled things so huge thanks to all the staff. Not only the management but all the mechanics and their families for making this sacrifice. We have been away from home so long this off season, often for no laps, but we are in a good position now. To win the first race starts our championship off 25 points better than last year! That was a good way to start.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “I I felt good all weekend, I have been really strong and got lots of laps in. In the race, maybe on lap six or seven, I found some problems, struggling with the front of the bike. I did not expect that. I had two slides on the entry to turn five, then turn ten. I thought that as this is the first race of the year, if I crash now it is just for nothing. I thought to myself, find your rhythm, let Jonathan go, then when somebody passes you, try to fight. Then I realised it was Toprak and he is so good on the brakes! In this area, for some reason, I didn’t have the same feeling like I had in the practice sessions. Luckily Toprak used an SCX rear tyre and he started to slide a lot. I was quite smooth, managed well and started to battle with him again. The second part of the race was quite tough but with the difficulty I had I didn’t expect to be there at the end for second. The positive point was that qualifying was good, the start was good and I was riding well at the start, so we can try to improve for tomorrow.”