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29 Október 2023

Rea Podiums On His Final KRT Raceday

Kawasaki Racing Team rider and six-times World Champion Jonathan Rea finished his final WorldSBK weekend in KRT colours with a podium finish in the Superpole Race and a no-score after leading Race Two for a few breathless laps. Alex Lowes (KRT) found misfortune with a fall in the Superpole Race that saw him miss the season finale in Race Two.

In the Superpole Race the ten lap contest ended up being an eight lap race after a red flag was thrown due to an engine failure for a rival rider and the subsequent thick blanket of smoke that affected the track surface.

In the restarted Superpole Race, held over only eight laps, Rea kept himself in podium contention and held off the pressure from Toprak Razgatlioglu to earn a third place finish and his 18th rostrum of the year.

The early chaos in the restarted Superpole race would end Lowes’ day of action, after Razgatlioglu passed him into Turn One. His manoeuvre left Alex not quite enough room at the apex, meaning his front tyre touched Razgatlioglu’s rear tyre. As Lowes fell his helmet visor contacted his rival’s tyre and was torn off. Alex suffered injuries to his eyelids and face as a result of this very unusual incident. He was examined by the medical officials and declared unfit to ride in the final race of the season. He thus finishes the racing year in 11th place overall.

In Race Two Rea clearly set out to win his final race with KRT, and led for the first four laps with a radically different setup compared to the previous races. Even new World Champion Alvaro Bautista and 2021 WorldSBK champion Toprak Razgatlioglu were unable to match his early pace.

Jonathan’s chances of a win ended when he lost the front in the second corner, on lap five, leaving him last as he remounted his bike and rejoined. In typically determined fashion he came through the field at a high pace but would finish 17th.

Rea had already confirmed his third place ranking in the championship table after Race One on Saturday, but managed to achieve the ambition of a podium on his final day, thanks to his strong performance in the Superpole Race.

The Jerez weekend heralded the end of one era, and the start of a new one commences quite soon, once again at Jerez. A two day test is scheduled to start on Tuesday 31 October. Several new WorldSBK technical rules will be brought into play for 2024, making this particular test session even more valuable than most.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “A bitter-sweet final day. I wasn’t riding with emotion or anger, I was just flowing with my bike in Race Two. My crew chief Pere Riba made quite a big change, something like we had at the test here in May, and it worked really well. All weekend the grip has been low and we have been carrying a rolling set-up from the previous round. I even told Uri my chief mechanic, ‘this race is for us.’ I got to the front and I thought this feeling was good, but of course it was too good. On a bike set-up that was quite different, with different margins I just overstepped it a bit in T2. The bike got a little bit squirrelly going in and instead relaxing on the front brake and blowing the corner a little bit, I really committed to make the corner with a lot of lean angle, and down I went. Not the ending that the team or I deserve. I wanted to finish in the right way. But we didn’t go down without a fight. The right handlebar was bent far forward, I had about 15mm of right footpeg left, so I just wanted to finish the race. When I saw my second or third laptime after I crashed I was doing 1’41s, which was faster than I did in Race One on Saturday. So I just kept going, thinking I could maybe score a point. I have some strange feelings overall today. Not from a performance side, or results side, just strange because I am leaving an incredible team.”

Alex Lowes, stated: “It’s a real shame to end the season this way. I had started morning warm-up today with a slight change on the front of the bike and it felt really good. It was strong, and even with a hard tyre we were really fast. I led the Superpole race before the red flag. I had made a good start, put in some good passes. I was also feeling good in the restarted Superpole race and obviously we were going to be challenging for the podium, because we were looking sharp. Toprak passed me into Turn One and I felt like it was a bad move from him. From the outside it doesn’t look like that, but the way he came in front of me and stopped he didn’t really give me anywhere to go. I am not going to complain about the move. I like the way he rides and Race Two was fantastic for the fans. Still, it is a shame about the fall and I was lucky to get away with it because the impact was big and I have some stitches around my eyes and quite a lot of swelling on my face. Thank you to all the team and all the crew, it has been a tough year for us but they have always given 100% for us every day, and I really appreciate that. Personally speaking, thank you very much to them. Sad to see Jonathan have his last races in green today but massive respect to him and all the best for the future.”

Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 15th in the Superpole Race and 14th in the final full distance race of 2023. He ended up 22nd in the championship overall, having only joined the team at the fifth round.

Oliver König (Orelac Racing Movisio Kawasaki) was 17th in the Superpole Race and  23rd in the final race.

2023 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics

Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2023: Races 36, Wins 1, Podiums 17, Superpoles 3
Career Race Wins: 119 (104 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 263 (221 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 43 (39 for Kawasaki)

Alex Lowes:
2023: Races: 30, Wins 0, Podiums 1, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 34 (14 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: 178 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 542 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 108 – second overall