Alex Lowes will not be attending the test at Portimao as he completes his recovery from a recent training injury, but the planned two days on track will feature six-times and reigning world champion Jonathan Rea.
Despite some unfortunate winter weather being encountered in previous tests the forthcoming Portuguese action will be by no means the first testing outing for the Ninja ZX-10RR racebike. A higher revving engine than the previous model, plus numerous aerodynamic and downforce advances, combine to allow harder acceleration, a greater top speed and improved dynamic performance from the 2021 Ninja.
The task of turning the uprated 2021 showroom model into full WorldSBK specification machine is well advanced but there are still important evaluations and confirmations to be made at the undulating and intense Portimao track - which is a very different circuit to those which have already hosted winter tests for KRT.
Even after the postponement of the planned first WorldSBK round at Assen the aim of all inside the Kawasaki WorldSBK set-up is to get the new bike race ready as soon as possible.
Rea has been a big fan of the 4.592km long Portimao layout since he first raced a WorldSBK machine there, at the very end of the 2008 season. Portimao is now, statistically, his most successful WorldSBK circuit, with his 20 podium rides at the stadium-style hillside circuit including no fewer than 12 race wins. As well as going for title number seven in 2021, Rea is looking to be the first rider to reach the magical total of 100 WorldSBK race wins. He holds the all-time record of 99 race victories already.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It is really good to test again and I am excited to ride the bike - especially during these strange and unknown times. We have got some consistency going inside KRT since we tested in November, then again recently at Jerez. It is good to keep the rhythm going with the new Ninja ZX-10RR racebike before the start of season. We have already tested some new ideas with power characteristics from the engine although the weather conditions were not 100%. So, the main thing we have to do at this test is confirm things on the engine side and then fix our gearbox ratios. We aim to keep building speed and keep building confidence.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “I am working hard on my recovery with the doctors in Barcelona. I want to see all the guys from the team and join them at the track as soon as possible. Of course, I cannot wait to ride my new Ninja ZX-10RR again.”
Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, stated: “We think this test is a very important one and it is not easy to organise. We planned it two months ago it was already inside our development programme. We insisted to keep going with it for the purposes of development and set-up of our new bike. We think it is very important to understand the improvements in different tracks, to make good conclusions and not get confused. All the efforts logistically, in human terms and economically mean it is a good investment, as the conclusions we will take are going to be very important. We hope the weather respects us this time. It is a shame that Alex cannot do this test but he is not 100% to push on the bike, so we preferred to give him a little bit of time, especially as we will all start the championship a little bit later than planned. We want to be sure that when he gets on the bike he will be able to push to the maximum. We hope to make another test before the main pre-season Montmelo tests, to allow him to warm-up a little bit. Let’s see. We know all the current situation is not easy, especially because of Covid-19, but we will make all the protocols and safety organisation to ensure we have the least possible contact. Hopefully we can do a good job to provide KHI with even more information to keep developing all the small details on the bike so that we are as competitive as we can be starting the season.”
Independent Kawasaki team, Orelac Racing VerdNatura - with their rider Isaac Vinales - will join KRT on track at the Portimao tests this week.
2021 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2021: Races 0, Wins 0, Podiums 0, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 99 (84 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 185 (143 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 27 (23 for Kawasaki)
2021: Races: 0, Wins 0, Podiums 0, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 24 (4 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: 158 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 454 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 92 – second overall