The 4.592km long Portuguese circuit, located in the hills above many popular holiday resorts on the Algarve coast, is a very different challenge from the previous testing venue of Jerez, which the team tested at last week.
Both official KRT riders found that recent improvements in the base settings of their Ninja ZX-10RRs transferred well for ther most part to the undulating nature of the Portimao track. Each had their own programme of work to conclude before the team’s flight cases get loaded up in readiness for the long journey to Australia.
Rea was the second quickest rider of all at Portimao, even though he did not have a bike set-up to maximise his outright pace when he used the softer tyre options. He was a narrow 0.009 seconds from fastest rider Alvaro Bautista, with Rea setting a 1’39.044 personal best lap on the second day.
Lowes worked exclusively on race pace and preparations for the new season, after losing some available track time on the final morning at Portimao. Alex’s best lap of the tests was set on day one, with a 1.40.264, placing him 9th fastest overall on the aggregated times. He set 72 laps on day one and 56 on day two of the Portimao tests.
With the European element of the pre-season testing schedule complete, there will be two days of official testing at the legendary Phillip Island circuit, on 20-21 February, before the start of the 2023 season itself the following weekend.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Our test was positive. Again, we were just step-by-step working with the new electronics guys, and the changes they made to my requests. So we have more of an understanding, a good understanding, already. Of course, it is still a work in progress. From the testing side today we had some development rear tyres from Pirelli to try. Last week in the Jerez test we had front tyres to test, this time it was two different options of SCX rears. The track was in strange shape because I was much better with harder compound tyres than softer tyres. Every time we put a softer tyre in, trying to make a time attack, the lap time wasn’t coming. From a chassis point of view we tried a couple of new items at this test that influenced the bike in a really positive direction, so I feel we have made a step. You never really know until the lights go out but I think that we have had a decent winter, albeit a short one. I am quite happy with our two days work at Portimao.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “I did all my work on the SC0 rear tyres today so until I look at the time sheets properly I won’t know what my final pace was like. I had a small crash at T5 today, on that bump on the way in, which was annoying. But, in general, I feel quite good on the bike. I tried to do a lot of work on used tyres, because in winter testing 1’39.0 laps times are sound, but they do not improve the bike set-up too much. We need to really work in race conditions so that we can fight in the races. I have been trying to do that here and hopefully the hard work will pay off in Australia and we can have good races there. We can improve the package a bit but I think there is a little bit more to go.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “We are happy with the tests. We have some different items in some areas from last year to this year, and we tested them for the first time in Jerez. Here in Portimao what we did is confirm them and also try to build the starting point we will use in Australia. We reached all the expectations we had and honestly I am quite pleased with the job done by all the guys. The new electronics staff, Christophe and Sander, are working very well. We are understanding each other step-by-step. Johnny was very pleased and very happy, and at the same time he was going fast. At the end of the day, we are on the line that we expected to be on and we are ready to go to Australia.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Alex Lowes, stated: “We did most of our laps over half race distance each time we made a pit exit today, so we have prepared ourselves mainly for race conditions. Last year at the final test of the year, and at the race in Phillip Island, we were very competitive. We improved our performance. Here, we only used the hardest option rear tyre and we are now ready for the Phillip Island official tests and the first round of the new season.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was also out on track at Portimao, finishing up the tenth quickest rider over two days as he returns to WorldSBK from racing in the BSB championship in 2022.
2023 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2023: Races 0, Wins 0, Podiums 0, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 118 (103 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 245 (203 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 40 (36 for Kawasaki)
2023: Races: 0, Wins 0, Podiums 0, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 33 (13 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: 177 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 523 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 105 – second overall