The first WorldSBK presence at Donington since the 2019 season took place in dry conditions with Rea fastest in Free Practice One in the morning. He also led the afternoon’s FP2 session until very close to the end of the second 45-minute track outing.
In FP2 Rea could not quite improve on his best morning lap time of 1’27.841 as he could not get a clear track using a soft tyre near the end.
Lowes moved up from an early eighth to fourth fastest man on Friday’s combined times. The 4.023km Donington circuit provided a relatively consistent surface for the riders to practice on even if outright grip levels were slightly less than expected.
Today was the first time Alex had ridden the Ninja ZX-10RR at Donington after the cancellation of last year’s event. Donington is not one of the circuits Rea or Lowes have tested at in 2021 on the new Ninja ZX-10RR, which made the first two sessions important exercises in data gathering, as well as regular competition to set fast lap times.
Since the most recent championship round at Misano and before Donington Rea and Lowes tested at what will be a new track for WorldSBK to race at in 2021, Navarra in Spain. They put some of the experience from that test to good use today back on home asphalt.
Next Rea and Lowes will face a final short FP3 session on Saturday morning, before the Tissot Superpole Qualifying session and then a full distance Race One over 23 laps on Saturday afternoon.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “The bike was working pretty well today and straight away I felt a good rhythm. The level of grip of the track is pretty low compared to 2019 but I don’t think there has been a lot of activity here. So it just took a little bit of time to understand and we tried not make too many changes because we expected the track to have more tyre rubber laid down as the day went on. We made a set-up change that would increase agility, especially in the first two sectors and I felt as big improvement - but it compromised the last two sectors where I was really strong in FP1. So we need to find a middle ground for tomorrow. But I felt quite good and my rhythm was really strong. I could ride in the 1’28 lows so I feel that has put us in good shape for tomorrow. I am satisfied with the days’ work.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “We did not have a normal session this morning. I did not feel quite right so I did not really push, so I just did some laps to learn the Kawasaki on this track. In the afternoon we used our base setting, more or less, from the last few tests, and we tried a couple of things on the electronics and I felt quite good from the start. I was able to do a lot of good, fast consistent laps. It was a positive afternoon and I did not feel like I was pushing too hard. The pace was strong so it was probably one of my more positive Friday sessions.”
Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was ninth fastest on the opening day; Isaac Vinales (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) placed 16th. The final regular Kawasaki Independent rider Loris Cresson (TPR Outdo Kawasaki) was 21st. Local rider Luke Mossey (TPR Outdo Kawasaki) was 17th on day one at his home circuit of Donington.
2021 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2021: Races 9, Wins 4, Podiums 9, Superpoles 3
Career Race Wins: 103 (88 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 194 (152 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 30 (26 for Kawasaki)
2021: Races: 9, Wins 0, Podiums 3, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 27 (7 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: 162 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 466 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 95 – second overall