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Lowes Scores First 2023 Podium
The Mandalika International Street Circuit witnessed a very complicated second raceday for all riders and teams in the FIM Superbike World Championship but Alex Lowes secured his first podium finish of the season on his Ninja ZX-10RR. He took third place in a shortened Tissot-Superpole race. Jonathan Rea’s best finish on Sunday was fourth, just behind his team-mate Lowes in the Superpole race.
In relatively warm Sunday conditions the Mandalika circuit saw Rea start from the second row of the grid in the short ten lap Tissot- Superpole race, and Lowes launch from the third row. The race would only last a couple of laps before being red-flagged, after an incident that involved, Danilo Petrucci, Alex Lowes and Loris Baz.
Alex’s machine was so badly damaged he was allowed to use a spare bike, as the restarted eight lap Superpole race was declared a ‘stand-alone’ contest, with the grid positions the same as they had been at the beginning of the red-flagged race.
A subsequent incident saw Alex try to pass Baz into Turn Ten, but after committing to the overtake Baz’s right leg was extended to the side during braking and Alex’s machine made contact with it. Baz suffered lower leg and ankle fractures, but did not fall him his machine after running wide. After an investigation into the incident by Race Direction, no further action was taken.
Alex restarted on his spare machine and when Alvaro Bautista crashed out without injury, and Rea’s rear tire lost adhesion off-line after passing Bautista, Alex moved into a podium position. He held third place to the end of the race for his first trophy of the season. Jonathan secured fourth place.
In the second and final scheduled 22-lap race of the Mandalika weekend another red flag stoppage ended the action, albeit temporarily, after two riders collided and their bikes remained on the active track.
A restarted 14 lap Race Two saw Alex finish 13th after losing front tire grip. Jonathan fell at T7 on lap eight, while fighting for a top five placing. After Two Rounds and six individual races, Rea is sixth overall and Lowes 12th.
After the long journey back to the team’s European base is complete the work will continue with two private tests sessions. WorldSBK returns to full race mode at the classic Assen TT circuit in the Netherlands, between 21-23 April 2023. Assen is Rea’s best circuit in terms of race wins, with no fewer than 17 victories to his credit, the most recent being two wins last season.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It has been a very difficult weekend, with not so many positives. We, step-by-step, found a better direction. The track here in Mandalika has been quite inconsistent from Friday, when the grip level was really low, but we understood on raceday that the grip level was incredibly high. So, we never nailed the set-up perfectly, but I felt that we got better. In the races I felt my rhythm was OK but unfortunately in the Superpole Race I found some traffic in front of me and it was very difficult to pass. But I felt my pace was quite good. In Race Two I lost the front. Not exactly quite sure why, but it is quite windy in that area. I think the wind just picked the front up. I am frustrated and I found it very difficult to pass anyone on acceleration or on the brakes. I was riding over my head sometimes on the brakes and in the corners trying to stay with the group. But, we have to accept this tough weekend, try to learn from it and then put it behind us when we head back to Europe. We will have much more information now. So even as we are disappointed, we need to keep our heads up and keep fighting. I feel Assen is a great track to come back to with some strong results.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “Hard work and a chaotic day. The Superpole Race was good, in terms of having a good pace, grip and the bike felt good. I felt a little bit stronger than Locatelli in the last couple of laps. I felt strong on the bike with soft SCX tire in the rear. The temperature was down a little bit, which helps our bike. It is always tough in those short action packed races. So to get up off the ground, go out on the spare bike and commit to a race like that, I am really happy. But, the main thing is to say get well soon to Loris Baz. There was an incident where I went to pass him but I hit his leg. His leg came out and I couldn’t really avoid it once I had committed to try to pass him. It was a real shame. In the long race, I felt quite good, I got up to second position, feeling OK, then I started to have some inconsistency with the brakes. It caused me to run wide a little bit. Then we had the red flag. In the Superpole race, during the red flagged race, the bike was quite badly damaged. I was not able to use the tires from the Superpole red flag crash, as they were too badly damaged as well. I had to use the tires from the start of the second race, and I had a few more laps on them than some of the other guys had on theirs. I thought the best game plan was to sit behind the group, look after the tires and try to come forward at the end. But I struggled a lot with front grip. When the grip is not there, we cannot ride the bike on the front. This is tough because I feel I am riding a lot better than our position shows. But that is racing and we will try again in Assen.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) retired in both the Superpole Race and Race Two.
Oliver König (Orelac Racing Movisio Kawasaki) was 18th in the eighth lap race and was unable to start the final 14 Lap race of the weekend, after his bike was pushed off the starting grid.
2023 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2023: Races 6, Wins 0, Podiums 1, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 118 (103 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 246 (204 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 40 (36 for Kawasaki)
2023: Races: 6, Wins 0, Podiums 1, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 34 (14 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: 177 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 525 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 105 – second overall