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23 Juli 2021

Rea Leads The Early Assen Pace

Jonathan Rea finished the fastest rider after the opening two Free Practice sessions of the FIM Superbike World Championship round at Assen. His KRT team mate Alex Lowes was ninth overall after his first day of action at this track on the Ninja ZX-10RR.

In FP1 Rea had been second fastest and Lowes 12th, but both improved their pace and relative positions with information and experience based on their early feedback.

Since the WorldSBK championship last raced at Assen in 2019 the track has been resurfaced. Rea made the most of the smoother tarmac to edge out a narrow 0.121 second advantage over Garrett Gerloff at the end of a busy first day of action. Rea also evaluated some new options brought to this round by single make tyre supplier, Pirelli.

Lowes learned more about the new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR in FP1 during his first Kawasaki ride at Assen and then improved his pace in the second session to finish ninth. He got to within 0.568 seconds of Rea’s best lap as he built confidence and experience. Alex also feels he has a good race pace at this early stage.

The skies were overcast above the 4.542km long Assen track today but conditions remained dry. Changeable weather is predicted for the rest of the weekend. Higher temperatures may be evident but the chance of heavy rainfall at times is a likely prospect for Sunday.

Next Lowes and Rea will face an FP3 session on Saturday morning, before the Tissot Superpole Qualifying competition and then Race One, over 21 laps, in the afternoon.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “They have re-asphalted the track at Assen since we were last here and it is incredible. They have done a great job. Massive congratulations to them because it was like when Misano was resurfaced; it is like a different track. You can attack more and the rhythm is faster. I feel good with the bike and this morning I was up to speed quite fast, although also we had to understand different tyres and so on. We put what we thought would be the race package together for the second session and my crew chief Pere said that if it felt good, just stay out and do a longer run. We did a long distance stint and I felt quite comfortable all through the session. It was good for the first day but we need to improve in some areas. We will sit down now and come up with a plan for Saturday. ”

Alex Lowes, stated: “It is nice to be back at Assen. It is my first time here with the Kawasaki and the times are quite close. We tried a couple of things in the afternoon and I felt pretty good on the bike. I was quite consistent. I felt a lot better than the final position and when we looked at the timesheets afterwards there were a lot of guys who did a couple of good laps, but then their overall pace was a bit slower. I would say it was fairly positive in that respect and I have got a lot more information about this track with this bike. Sometimes having a lot of experience of riding different bikes at one track goes against you because you are searching for something that feels different. I would say it has been a good day; plenty of laps and a nice, calm approach. I am looking forward to Saturday morning and FP3 to find some improvements in a couple of areas.”

Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) put in a very strong early performance to finish seventh on Friday on his Independent Kawasaki. Isaac Vinales (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 17th and Loris Cresson (TPR Outdo Kawasaki) 21st.

2021 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics

Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2021: Races 12, Wins 5, Podiums 11, Superpoles 4
Career Race Wins: 104 (89 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 196 (154 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 31 (27 for Kawasaki)

Alex Lowes:
2021: Races: 12, Wins 0, Podiums 4, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 28 (8 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: 163 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 469 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 96 – second overall