In bright morning sunshine Rea and Lowes finished FP1 in first and third positions, riding on a new track surface from that used in the 2020 race weekend. The KRT duo recently tested at Portimao and used that prior knowledge to good effect in their early preparations for the three WorldSBK races that will take place this weekend.
In FP2 Alex moved up one place to second in the combined timesheets to complete a KRT 1-2, with Jonathan finally 0.191 seconds ahead of Lowes.
The conditions at Portimao have been universally warm and dry since the WorldSBK paddock arrived after the recent Jerez round, with the track temperatures almost reaching 50°C in FP2 today.
Rea and his crew made several set-up changes from FP1 to FP2 and as a consequence Rea was not only the fastest rider over a single lap but made real advances in his race pace on used tyres.
Lowes was happy with his early practice sessions at Portimao after withdrawing from Race Two at Jerez, due to the after effects of a hand injury suffered at the previous Catalunya event.
Rea, the most successful rider at Portimao in recent years, was 0.217 seconds ahead of the next best non-Kawasaki rider, with his main championship rival Toprak Razgatlioglu fifth overall today.
With the first day of action wrapped up at the 4.592km long Portuguese circuit the WorldSBK riders will have FP3 practice, Tissot-Superpole qualifying and then the first full 20-lap race of the weekend to face on Saturday 2 October.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I’m very happy with the bike and the work we did today. We made some quite significant changes to our set-up between session and I felt more comfortable on the bike; probably the most comfortable I have felt all season. I feel relieved in some ways and excited for tomorrow to see what it brings. I was able to keep quite a high-paced rhythm over a long run and just kept getting faster and faster. Normally when you keep the rhythm high in the beginning the tyre drop is quite significant, but I was able to keep the tyre and manage it. Especially at a track like this, where you put a lot of energy into the tyre around the long last corner, I have been quite strong. Great work from all the team and I am looking forward to seeing what happens tomorrow. I feel ready.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “It was not bad for the first day and I felt pretty good on the bike. We had a good test here, maybe a month-and-a-half ago. At this track on our bike it seems to be pretty good. The bike is stable and it is fun to ride it here. I still need to check of I can ride in the races here. We have made a good start to this weekend but now I am going to the Clinica for checks and then I will see how the hand feels in the morning. Today was good and my hand feels better than it did a week ago, but it has been very boring sitting for a few days with a cast on!”
The injured Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was replaced at this round by Tito Rabat, who finished his first day as a Ninja ZX-10RR rider in WorldSBK in 20th place.
Isaac Vinales (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was a strong 13th after FP1 and FP2, the top Kawasaki Independent Rider.
Loris Cresson (TPR Outdo Kawasaki) was 22nd and young Australian rider Lachlan Epis (TPR Outdo Kawasaki) 23rd after the opening day of track action on the Algarve coast.
2021 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2021: Races 29, Wins 10, Podiums 24, Superpoles 8
Career Race Wins: 109 (94 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 209 (167 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 35 (31 for Kawasaki)
2021: Races: 28, 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: 168 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 483 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 100 – second overall