In Superpole qualifying on Saturday Rea pushed himself up to second place on the grid, with Lowes fourth quickest. Rea started off the front row with Lowes launching from row two.
Rea, a six-times WorldSBK champion with Kawasaki, was able to stay
close to eventual race winner Toprak Razgatlioglu for the first few laps. As the race progressed and his rear tyre grip dropped, Jonathan was passed by eventual second place rider Alvaro Bautista. Rea rode with a cool head to finish a clear third after 21-laps in hot ambient and track conditions.
Air temperatures for Race One were 38°C, with the asphalt surface reaching 58°C.
Lowes was run off track early in the race but had the pace and passing ability to get back into a strong position. Having just passed Garrett Gerloff near the end he found a false neutral and lost two places on the final lap, ending up in ninth place at the flag.
The 4.310km long Mandalika circuit was resurfaced very recently, which means that so far there is one narrow line of grippy asphalt around the many corners, with most other areas being very slippery. This makes any passing opportunity or any accidental venture ‘off-line’ quite an uncertain and nervous experience.
The track is ‘rubbering-in’ on that narrow racing line, so much so that both circuit and lap records were broken on Saturday, despite the circuit being much slower than expected on Friday.
With Saturday’s action now completed, Sunday 12 November will feature the ten-lap Superpole race and then a second full distance Race Two.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “The target was the podium, to be honest. In Superpole I put a lap together and I was second fastest but I did not expect to have Toprak in my view in the race for so long. After four or five laps I thought, maybe I could be there? But as soon as the grip drops the bike starts behaving differently. All around the T5 to T8 section on the side of the tyre is where I was really struggling. The biggest worry for us before the race was the front tyre, but in parc ferme, at the end of the race, it was not so much worse than the others. We need to try to improve the grip level tomorrow, especially when the initial grip drops. The track surface is rubbering-in now, so of course it is getting better and better. That means tyre consumption should be better tomorrow, but we still need to make a step.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “I got a good start, but out of Turn One Bassani out-accelerated me, took my line, hit me, which bent my brake protector and put me onto the dirty part of the track. Rather than just going in fifth or sixth behind the leaders I ended up about tenth. That ruined my race really. But then I started coming through, and passed Van Der Mark, Rinaldi, Gerloff, and my pace was actually quite fast. It was going well but when you arrive to a group you have to pass from a few bike length’s behind and any small mistake they can pass you right back. That was frustrating, and then on the last lap, after I had got past Gerloff, I had a false neutral and went from seventh to ninth. I was annoyed at that because I had ridden quite well. ”
Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was unable to ride in the opening race after spraining his ankle in an FP3 crash. He is hoping to be fit to ride on Sunday at Mandalika, and in the final round in Australia in one week’s time.
Oliver König (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was 17th in Superpole and 16th in Race One. Kyle Smith (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) placed 19th in Superpole qualifying but was forced to retire during his first ever WorldSBK race with a technical issue on his machine.
2022 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2022: Races 31, Wins 5, Podiums 25, Superpoles 5
Career Race Wins: 117 (102 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 240 (198 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 40 (36 for Kawasaki)
2022: Races: 30, Wins 0, Podiums 2, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 31 (11 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: 176 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 515 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 105 – second overall