After two days of official tests earlier this week the main task for both Rea and Lowes was to find set-up and tyre solutions for the much higher track and air temperatures they faced today.
Track temperatures almost reached 50°C in the afternoon session on Friday, when they never quite reached 40°C in the test on Monday and Tuesday.
The constant wind that blew in from the direction of the nearby ocean in testing also changed direction today, picking up heat from the interior landmass before blowing down the main straight towards the sea.
A strong start in Free Practice One for Rea proved to be less so in the afternoon’s Free Practice Two, as he lost grip due to the hot track temperatures. Now Jonathan and his technical crew will collate and analyse the data they collected today and hope for lower asphalt temperatures when they face the first race of the new season, at 16.00 local time on Saturday 25 February.
Lowes improved his overall machine set-up and tyre usage compared to the recent tests, but hopes for both reduced temperatures and more edge grip on corner exits to be able to maximise his performance over full race distance on Saturday.
The second day of WorldSBK action at Phillip Island will feature a 30 minute free practice session, then Tissot Superpole qualifying to determine grid positions for a 22-lap opening WorldSBK race, which is scheduled to start at 16.00 local time.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “This morning I felt quite positive, to be honest. When I reviewed the first session I felt there or thereabouts; fighting for the podium positions. In the afternoon, with more heat on the track, from the very first lap I didn’t feel good grip. We have some small set-up issues, and we are not far away, but the main problem today was grip. We will put everything together, understand what happened and try to make a plan for Saturday and Race One. I would prefer cooler conditions for the race, as last year the tendency was that we struggled more in hot conditions. I want to forget this session a little bit and I would prefer a cooler race tomorrow. I don’t think the track is going to be like it was today (48°C) but it is still going to be very hot.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “In the recent tests I was in a relatively low position on the timesheets but I knew we were a little bit better than that. I would have said my real position was more like sixth, seventh, eighth, and that is where we were today. But when it got hot in the afternoon, as a general rule on our bike, we struggle in hotter conditions. It just tipped around the 50°C mark on the track and we were in trouble, really struggling for edge grip on the rear. But I did a race simulation, I think maybe putting in one more lap than a full race simulation, and that is going to give us good information for tomorrow. The track is probably going to be slightly cooler, so it should feel better. We are not quite feeling as good as we want to right now, but tomorrow is race time, so I am sure I will fire up.”
Second year WorldSBK rider Oliver König (Orelac Racing Kawasaki) was 19th after day one pf practice in Australia, with returnee rider Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) 20th.
2023 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2023: Races 0, Wins 0, Podiums 0, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 118 (103 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 245 (203 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 40 (36 for Kawasaki)
2023: Races: 0, Wins 0, Podiums 0, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 33 (13 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: 523 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 105 – second overall