Six times World Champion Rea was the fastest rider in the opening Free Practice session at the 5.077km circuit, making a strong start to his race weekend after an in-season test at this same venue in August.
Jonathan improved his lap time in the afternoon’s FP2 session but in the final combined Friday timesheets he finished in fourth place overall. He was the fastest non-Ducati rider on day one at a circuit with a very long back straight that leads into the long left-handed final corner.
Marino acquitted himself very well in the opening two practice sessions of his first ever KRT race weekend, finishing 13th in FP1 and finally 16th overall.
Florian knows the KRT Ninja ZX-10RR well in his role as team test rider and he is now looking forward to his first race for the official Kawasaki team on Saturday. He has competed in WorldSBK races only twice before, in 2018, for another manufacturer.
Bright and sunny weather welcomed the start of on-track action for all the riders, allowing for relatively consistent track conditions which were only undermined by a relatively strong wind that the riders had to make allowances for.
On Saturday 23 September the new-look KRT duo will have a final FP3 practice session before attacking the Tissot Superpole qualifying session in the afternoon. That intense contest against the clock determines the final grid positions for Race One and Sunday’s Tissot-Superpole race - otherwise known as the ‘sprint.’
Jonathan Rea, stated: “We took a base from what we had in the test here a few weeks ago so we started with the bike in the ballpark. I have been able to do laps consistently and we also did a longer run in the afternoon. I feel quite solid but there is still some room for improvement. We have to understand the changes to make for tomorrow. I have to believe I can compete and I feel like today I maximised everything. I was there, in the ballpark. If you look at the lap-by-lap results we gave away too much time in sector four, and this is time we cannot improve. We need to find improvements in our strong areas and other areas of the track. The track surface is getting better and better because this morning it was so ‘green’ and dirty. The afternoon was more normal. If it does not rain overnight then we should have good track conditions again.”
Florian Marino, stated: “It has been a very positive first day and things went as planned, more or less as we expected. I feel happy about today’s performance, especially in FP2. I had been riding all that session on my own, really focusing on being as consistent as I could. My last outing with a fresh set of tyres was on a different compound, both front and rear. I felt it didn’t really suit my expectation and my feelings on the bike. I still did all the laps to gain as much information as possible, and I still managed to improve my lap time a little bit. I am happy enough with today but I think we have plenty of work for tomorrow. I am really happy about today; it is a dream for me and I have been enjoying it. I hope I can maximise my day again tomorrow. Thanks to Kawasaki, the team and the crew for this opportunity and the job they did today. I hope we take the right steps tomorrow.”
Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) fell early in FP2 yet still finished 18th overall. Isaac Vinales (TPR by Vinales Racing Kawasaki) was 23rd after both sessions and Oliver König (Orelac Racing Movisio Kawasaki) 25th.
2023 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2023: Races 27, Wins 1, Podiums 13, Superpoles 1
Career Race Wins: 119 (104 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 259 (217 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 41 (37 for Kawasaki)
2023: Races: 26, 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: 178 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 538 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 106 – second overall