The anticipation was high for a classic battle to start the first race weekend of the 2022 WorldSBK season at the 5.077km long Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain, and the action up front delivered from the first to the last lap.
Having secured third place in Superpole qualifying earlier in the day, Rea started alongside pole man Toprak Razgatlioglu and second placed qualifier Alvaro Bautista.
The three leading riders fought hard in the early laps, with Rea leading, then being re-passed by Razgatlioglu, with Bautista sitting behind until joining in the three-way fight for the first full points score of the season.
In the final lap, with Razgatlioglu slowing, Rea had to fight Bautista for the what was to be a famous win. Jonathan led onto the back straight but was passed by the Spanish rider as they approached the braking zone. Rea made a decisive move on the inside line into the final corner, holding his advantage on the exit and winning by just 0.090 seconds. With Bautista second, Razgatliolgu was third, 5.416 seconds behind Rea.
Misfortune struck for Lowes as he was sitting in a strong fifth place, at the head of the riders chasing the leading group. He fell at Turn 12 on lap seven and could not restart. Alex had qualified fifth in Superpole and started the race from the second row of the grid.
Two more WorldSBK races remain at Motorland - the ten-lap Superpole Race at 11.00 local time and the 18-lap Race Two on Sunday 10 April.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It was a nice race and an exciting one. I really enjoyed the battle. I think we really showed the strength of our bike. It was very agile, stable on the brakes, and I could change direction. The work we did in the off-season, focusing on the softer tyres in the SCX family, is really bearing fruit now. I was able to be very fast until the end with a soft tyre, in a very cool temperature. Even before the race we were thinking, ‘OK, we have done all this work but we had never, ever made this SCX work in 24°C of track temperature’. So big credit to my team, Kawasaki and Showa because it was a really big win for us to do that. Not just to win the first round of the championship but the way we did it. We have two more opportunities tomorrow that we have to maximise. But today I am really happy.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “The race was obviously disappointing, even more so because we have worked all winter on used tyres and being consistent. I think we just made some mistakes with the setting on the bike. It is frustrating really that with the experience we have got we ended up where we are. We all have to take responsibility. Congratulations to Jonathan and all his crew because it was a mega race win for KRT, so it was nice for us to start the year with a win. We have a lot to do to get me feeling comfortable, as right now we are not working as I expect. We have work to do.”
Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) placed 14th in the season opener, with
Oliver König (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) 22nd and Loris Cresson (TPR Team Pedercini Racing) 23rd.
2022 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2022: Races 1, Wins 1, Podiums 1, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 113 (98 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 216 (174 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 35 (31 for Kawasaki)
2022: Races: 1, Wins 0, Podiums 0, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 29 (9 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: 172 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 490 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 100 – second overall