Brief But Positive KRT Test
Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes took to the track with their Ninja ZX-10RR machines on Friday 2 December to start important preparations for the 2023 FIM Superbike World Championship.
The planned two-day test at the 4.423km long Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto was reduced to half a day, on Friday afternoon, due to earlier periods of wet weather. On an almost dry*- track both Lowes and Rea worked through various test items, just a few days after the end of the 2022 racing season.
In the final analysis, each rider had enough track time to form opinions about the new items, with Rea finishing as the fastest rider with a 1’39.911, set on lap 39 of 50.
Alex went out on track first, on a damp but drying track surface. He would also set 50 laps in a single busy afternoon session, swapping between two bikes in the team’s new winter tests colours.
Lowes was third fastest overall, with a 1’40.342 best lap time despite the not quite perfect track conditions.
The next test for the KRT riders will be in late January 2023, once again at Jerez.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It has been a very worthwhile test because we had to make decisions on some ‘hard’ parts for the off season, so that we can start in a good way next year. We just had three or four of these important items to say yes or no on. Riding the 2023 bike is good. There are some areas we need to improve, because we are still doing the early work, especially from the electronics side. But step-by-step we will put the package together. The track was never in perfect shape as there were still some damp patches out there but we were able to make some decisions. I am happy to go into the off season healthy and happy. I look forward to a few weeks holiday now.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “I felt good on the bike even if the weather was a little bit against us at this test, meaning we just got the last afternoon on track. When I started the track was still quite damp but we used this time to try some things that were not about overall performance. We had some new ideas for 2023 so I spent the next couple of hours ‘back-to-back’ testing some new parts, with some positives and some negatives on the rear of the bike. The good point was that we got a lot of laps in, so we have a lot of information to try to piece everything together to give us a good step for the test at the end of January.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “The test went OK, because we did just four hours in the end. The weather has been not nice; raining all day on Thursday and it took a long time to dry today which means we got those four hours. We had a couple of things that we had to test and get the feedback from the riders about, because it has to be developed during the winter time. Finally, we could collect the information. Johnny was going fast and we were only using an SC0 tyre, a hard option, in the rear. It was quite consistent in the lap times and we collected all the info that we wanted. Now we are just looking forward to next year.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Alex Lowes, stated: “During the day we had a couple of main items that we tried, to improve for next year. After this half day test we have a clear opinion about most of the items, which allows us to continue to improve for the January test. Having done this in just a few hours we are very satisfied. We did not touch the set-up from Phillip Island, not one click, and Alex was immediately fast and even more consistent. We are very pleased with these test results. We can all enter the holiday period with a big smile on our faces.”
Tom Sykes, the 2013 WorldSBK champion with Kawasaki, returned to the series with Kawasaki Puccetti Racing at this test, after a season spent racing in BSB. He also only rode during the final dry afternoon session, but set a best lap time of 1’40.949 – just over one second from the fastest rider.