Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes completed a positive test at Jerez in Spain on Friday 17 December, marking KRT’s first major step into the 2022 FIM Superbike World Championship season.
Both riders carried out evaluations of new components and settings on the official Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR to allow the KMC and KRT technical staff to work over the winter break on improving real race performance for the new season which starts in early April 2022.
Weather conditions were very kind at the popular 4.423km long Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto, allowing a clear run through the test programme and a positive overall conclusion to what was finally a two-day test.
On-track action was only conducted by the KRT riders on the first and last available days, Wednesday 15 December and Friday 17, with a rider rest and technical evaluation day on Thursday.
The target of the test was to find overall improvements in the performance of the Ninja ZX-10RR on race tyres and despite focusing on this Rea was able to set impressive times on Friday after the team had made changes to the machine’s overall spec and set-up.
For Alex Lowes, still recovering from an injury-affected 2021 season, his lap times also proved strong even though this was not his main target at this test. Lowes was also pleasantly surprised by how well his body withstood the rigours of testing and he will now aim to be back at full fitness before the new season gets underway.
There will now be a short winter break from track action for the team, with the next scheduled test taking place at Jerez once more, in late January.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It has been a really fun two days riding. We structured the test to ride on day one, then have a day off to let the mechanics work on the bike. We got going again on day three. We found out a lot of good information and I am really happy with the team, Showa and KMC for their continued hard work in bringing new parts to test. I had a lot of fun on the bike and we managed to get through everything we had on the list at this test. Now is the important time because we will act on our findings and try to improve and re-evaluate some items again in January. The weather was great at Jerez, quite consistent, and we got a lot of valuable track time in. To be honest, this test was quite challenging mentally because I did a lot of work and I had been off the bike for quite some time. I’m really looking forward to going home now and spending Christmas with my family and just having some downtime. I want to recharge now before I get stuck into my winter training again and look forward to the next test in January.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “It was a positive test for me. Today, Friday, we had a great day and ticked off all the boxes on the list of our test items. Obviously, I am still not 100% fit in my physical condition, so I am quite surprised with the lap times we managed. Now I can enjoy Christmas. I have given the engineers a lot of feedback on some of the new parts so we can expect to make another good step when we ride the bike again in January. It was really nice for me to check the condition of my shoulder, which was positive, but there is still a long way to go. It was also really nice to see some improvements coming from the Kawasaki guys and all of the KRT team. A good test after a long season, and a difficult one for me, with some injuries and without the results we wanted. But I can go home now, reset over Christmas and the New Year period and I am looking forward to 2022. Personally, I want to say a massive thank you to all of the team. It has been a long season for everybody – from the hospitality guys, the truck drivers, mechanics, everybody. It has been really, really nice and it’s a pleasure to be part of the team – see you soon guys!”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “The test has been positive and for three days the weather has been good. We concentrated on the chassis side at first, comparing different items with a good result. Johnny gave us very good and accurate information and comments and this helps us a lot to develop things and understand our direction. On the first day we tried something from Showa, something new, and Johnny was also very happy with those items. On the second day we analysed everything and prepared for riding again on day three. We have ten test days during the whole year so we have to save some days for the future tests. On the final day we focused more on the engine side because KMC has been working hard to send us some new material for 2022. We focused with the engine and clutch and Johnny was very happy. The rhythm in terms of lap times was very strong, and we did not use a qualifying tyre. I am honestly very pleased and happy to finish this test in this direction because Johnny was ‘talking’ very deep with the bike and enjoying riding it, and this is very important.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Alex Lowes, stated: “We had a very nice test. We had a lot of updated material and we got to tick everything off the list. We tested every single new part during these last days and the weather was also very good. We felt we found improvements in every single area of the bike. The rider left with a very big smile on his face! Now we have all the information to start from a slightly different and higher specification when we test again in January. We will start to build again from that moment.”
2021 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2021: Races 37, Wins 13, Podiums 30, Superpoles 8
Career Race Wins: 112 (97 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 215 (173 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 35 (31 for Kawasaki)
2021: Races: 30, Wins 0, Podiums 5, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 29 (9 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 1 (0 for Kawasaki)
8 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
6 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020)
5 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 171 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 489 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 100 – second overall