The combination of Rea and the Ninja ZX-10RR had worked well at the 4.936km long Imola circuit since the very first practice session on Friday. As he and his crew built their way to a final set-up package Rea secured second place in Superpole, giving him an ideal front row starting position.
On a development specification Pirelli rear tyre Rea set a new lap record of 1’46.023 on lap three of the opening race. He took his number one plate across the start-finish line in the leading position for all 19-laps at this intense and undulating circuit.
In a challenging race for Haslam, who had started from fourth place on the grid, he had to make up ground to get back into podium contention. He was less than one second from third place and tried to make one final pass on the last lap to take fourth, just missing out by 0.143 seconds across the line.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) took his Ninja ZX-10RR to third place, for his first podium of 2019. His strong race performance made it two Kawasakis inside the top three.
After a dry and mild first raceday of the weekend the two contests scheduled for Sunday – the ten lap Tissot-Superpole race and a second 19-lap full race – have a high probability of being held in wet conditions, according to most weather services.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am very proud of the team. Even though we have not won a race until now this season, no one has given up. The atmosphere inside the garage is incredible and I have so much support from my team. It is a real nice victory because it is for everybody that has been working hard. We kept working and making steps with the bike set-up. I felt really good because we made a step in the right direction. I stuck a pass in on Chaz Davies in turn four of lap one and then stuck my head down. That was my complete strategy. The plan worked perfectly as I was able to push the pace and then roll off in the last laps and enjoy the moment. I want to thank Kawasaki because we made a step forward from last year.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “We have been struggling to stop the bike. The pace was quite good and when I ran off track I bridged the gap of two seconds to the riders in front, I did it in two laps. When I was behind them it was impossible to pass. For me the race was very difficult because I felt I had a faster pace but I could not do anything with it when I was behind them.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) enjoyed his own landmark result at Imola – his first podium of 2019 after scoring two in his rookie season last year. Riding in distinctive ELF colours he came up from 11th place to record a famous third place at his team’s home event.
Toprak Razgatlioglu, stated: “I am really happy because after finishing 11th in Superpole I did not expect a podium. This season I have been expecting to score more podiums but it has not been possible until now. The set-up from Friday has been the same and the bike was good, but with the Superpole tyres, the bike’s position changes. I had a big fight with Michael van der Mark at the end. I really pushed with hard braking and on good line and we got the podium.”
Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was 11th, after qualifying ninth in Superpole. Hector Barbera (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 13th in race one, scoring his first WorldSBK points since taking over from the injured Leandro Mercado at the previous round in Assen.
2019 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018
2019: Races 12, Wins 1, Podiums 12, Superpoles 1
Career Race Wins: 72 (57 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 146 (104 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 17 (13 for Kawasaki)
2019: Races: 12, Wins 0, Podiums 2, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 5 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 41 (3 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 3 (0 for Kawasaki)
6 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
4 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017 & 2018)
4 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 128 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 395 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 82 – second overall