WorldSBK: Rea Says He’s Ready For “Emotional” Final Race With Kawasaki

WorldSBK: Rea Says He’s Ready For “Emotional” Final Race With Kawasaki

© 2023, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By Kawasaki:

Final Round Final KRT Race For Rea

Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes will take part in the final round of the 2023 WorldSBK season this coming weekend, at the Circuito de Jerez in southern Spain. This event, to be held between 27-29 October, will be Rea’s final one in KRT colours after securing six championships on Ninja ZX-10R or ZX-10RR machinery since he joined the team in 2015.

There has been a significant break in the calendar since the penultimate round was held in Portugal in late September, giving all inside the KRT squad time to work on their combined strategy to take on the originally unplanned – but now very welcome – inclusion of Jerez as the venue for the final round.

The team has already tested at Jerez in 2023, way back in January. Because of this on-track experience the team can start the final competitive weekend with data that is relevant to the latest iteration of the Ninja ZX-10RR. This specific knowledge of the circuit will be added to the wealth of experience gained across the previous 11 championship rounds and other numerous track-based test sessions.

This weekend is, of course, of great significance for six times world champion Rea, his crew and all inside KRT. Foremost in everyone’s mind, however, is working towards ending their peerlessly successful working relationship on as high a note as possible.

Rea has won a race already in 2023, despite a relatively tough start to the season, and has been building momentum – and his podium count – as the year has progressed. He has now taken seventeen podiums, including that race win at Autodrom Most in the Czech Republic, in late July.

Jonathan is third in the championship standings on the eve of the final round, some 50 points clear of the rider in fourth place.

Lowes is returning to action after hurting his previously injured left knee at the Portimao round, but he is feeling fit and ready to fight for the podium places again. He is currently ninth in the championship rankings.

Alex will, as has been previously confirmed, remain with KRT for the 2024 WorldSBK season, riding alongside new signing Axel Bassani.

The 4.423km long asphalt ribbon that forms Jerez’s layout has been the scene of several key moments in WorldSBK history. It is somehow fitting that Rea will end his KRT years here, as Jerez was the venue that confirmed Jonathan’s first WorldSBK title win with Kawasaki, in 2015.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “It is a strange feeling going to Jerez knowing that it is my last round with KRT and I am sure it is going to be an emotional weekend together with the staff. On track we will try to do the best job we can. It is a track that perhaps has been a difficult one for us but we have also shared some great times there, winning races. It was also the scene of winning my first World Championship for Kawasaki. We do a lot of laps there in the winter tests so we have a good idea of set-up. Of course, the Ninja ZX-10RR has evolved throughout the year and we have made steps in a positive direction. I really want to finish the year strongly for my team. We are still fighting for third place in the championship. The big target of the weekend is to enjoy riding the bike and do the best job we can but also to ensure we deliver that top three in the World Championship. I want to really try to enjoy the weekend with my team. All the build up to the weekend, all the weekend, and of course post-race, reflecting on what an amazing partnership it has been – I am sure it is going to be an emotional one. I hope I can give a good account of myself and do the team proud.”

 

Alex Lowes (22). Photo courtesy Kawasaki.
Alex Lowes (22). Photo courtesy Kawasaki.

 

Alex Lowes, stated: “I feel like this may be more of a first ‘race’ of winter testing and then next season for me, rather than the last race of the year. Since the summer break I have basically been injured for a couple of months. I have had a nice few weekends off, working hard and training hard. I am looking forward to finishing the year strongly in Jerez. It is a track that everybody knows well, and that the Kawasaki has gone well at in the past. The sad part of the weekend is that it will be Jonathan’s last ride with Kawasaki. I has been a pleasure to share the garage with him for the four years I have been at Kawasaki. We all know how good a rider he is, and the stats speak for themselves. He has been the best of certainly my generation in WorldSBK, and one of the best ever. But what has been almost better than that is off the bike and how much of a good bloke he is. I knew him a little bit before he was a team-mate but since spending a lot of time with him, in the garage, at events, away from the track, I would say that we have become friends. He has certainly made the four years more enjoyable for me. A great rider, an even better bloke and honestly I will miss not being on the other side of the garage to him. All the best to him in his last round with Kawasaki and well done to them for all they achieved together. Hopefully we can share the podium this weekend and finish our KRT relationship as team-mates in style. I am feeling good, looking forward to the race and I cannot wait to get down there, to be honest.”

Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) will complete his somewhat unexpected WorldSBK season at Jerez, with regular WorldSBK rider Oliver König (Orelac Racing Movisio Kawasaki) also competing at the Andalusian finale.

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