In a busy period for WorldSBK in general ‘Portimao’ - as the Algarve circuit is more familiarly known inside the paddock - is a welcome venue to visit. Both KRT riders cite it as one of their favourite race destinations of this or any other year. It will also be the final European-based venue in 2022, with the last three rounds all being flyaway events in the Southern Hemisphere.
Since the previous round in Barcelona-Catalunya Rea and Lowes took part in a short test at that same circuit on the Monday after race weekend, and yet another test on Wednesday 28 September, at the Motorland Aragon circuit. As this evidence suggests, no stone has been left unturned in pursuit of KRT success in the final few rounds.
Six-times WorldSBK Champion Rea has a remarkable record in most statistical measures within this category of racing but Portimao is actually his second best circuit in terms of race wins. Rea has 13 Portimao victories already in his WorldSBK locker. Assen is his absolute best venue to date, with 17 victories already claimed.
Portimao was actually the first track that Rea raced in WorldSBK, when he swapped his regular WorldSSP ride for an early Superbike opportunity at the very end of the 2008 season.
Some recent changes to his Ninja ZX-10RR’s base set-up have seen Lowes back to the kind of form he is looking for in WorldSBK. Alex has been on the Portimao podium once before but this coming weekend he is out to add to his top three tally this season, having already taken third places at the Donington and Catalunya rounds.
As we enter the ninth round of the season Rea is sitting third in the championship rankings, 67 points from the lead and just eight points from second place. Lowes is seventh, just nine points behind the top six.
After Portimao completes the European phase of the 12-round WorldSBK calendar the first of three ‘long-haul’ events will take place at the Circuito San Juan Villicum in Argentina, between 21-23 October 2022.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Portimao is a great circuit, and one which has a lot of special memories for me. I had my first ever WorldSBK Race there in 2008. The circuit itself is very challenging. It has a lot of different characteristics, from slow corners to fast ones, blind entries and apexes, so there is a lot of rider input required. We have enjoyed some success there. After Barcelona, where we were able to extract the full potential from our Ninja ZX-10RR, I expect to go to Portugal and keep working with my team to create a good race package. The race in Portugal is also cool because I have a lot of travelling support from Northern Ireland there. It is a great circuit for viewing as well. The target is to have a really good weekend. I really want to get back to winning ways after this mid part of the season, where I have had a bit of a win drought. Our team has had two good days of testing recently; one on Barcelona following the race and one in Motorland. We have a lot more information now and I am excited to put that to good use in Portugal.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “Portimao is one of my favourite tracks - and events in general. It’s going to end the European season for us and normally it’s a good track for me and the Ninja ZX-10RR. I’m aiming to continue my strong form and be fighting for the podium places again. We’ve made some improvements with our base set up lately, especially with the rear of the bike, which has given me even greater confidence. I can’t wait to try out the set-up changes next weekend at Portimao.”
Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) heads to Portugal looking to score top ten finishes with his Italian-based team. Oliver König (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) will continue his rookie season in search of championship points. After some strong displays from new rider Oscar Gutierrez (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) BSB regular Leon Haslam is preparing to return for the Portimao round. Leon has four Portimao WorldSBK podiums to his credit.
2022 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2022: Races 24, Wins 5, Podiums 18, Superpoles 4
Career Race Wins: 117 (102 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 233 (191 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 39 (35 for Kawasaki)
2022: Races: 23, 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: 509 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 104 – second overall