After the extreme heat of the previous round in Indonesia, the secret on Friday was to find a strong set-up early in the weekend, in much cooler but consistently dry conditions in Australia.
With no Phillip Island race last year, due to the global pandemic, the team and riders relied on previous data and their own memories of this unique flowing layout to make strong starts in both FP1 and FP2.
Rea was quickest in both sessions with Alex fourth in the morning and third in the afternoon.
Changes were made to Rea’s machine set-up for FP2, in the all-important quest for full race tyre life. This circuit is the hardest one on the calendar for tyres, with the bikes spending a lot of time on the left side during high speed cornering. Jonathan found improvements in tyre performance over distance and could maintain a strong single lap pace too.
Lowes found a solid set-up on day one and is looking to repeat the winning performance he put in during his first ever race weekend for Kawasaki in 2020, when he was victorious in Race Two.
Next up for both KRT riders at Phillip Island is FP3, Superpole Qualifying and then a 22-lap Race One on Saturday 19 November.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “We had a really solid day, and especially the start to the day. We had a good guesstimate of the spring balance and set-up needs, and the bike was working quite well. But, I also felt we could really improve. For the second session we made a big geometry change on the bike, back to what we had in the middle of the season. We improved the tyre consumption and the natural turning, but we just need to fix the spring balance of the bike now. Overall, there are a few issues we need to fix for tomorrow, in finishing the corner and also throttle connection in some areas. Just tweaks. We analysed front and rear tyre options, and I am quite clear with the front choice. With the rear I am still in between two options for the race. I did a lot of laps today to understand the tyres and give the guys some good info to improve. I think we can be fast enough with our one lap pace for Superpole.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “Today I was hoping that, on the base setting, we would be quick. It has been working almost everywhere since the test in the summer break at Barcelona. I have been on the front row at times and been challenging close to Johnny. Today felt good for me. The lap times have been quite slow to some previous times but I was happy compared to some of the other riders. There are a few more bumps at Phillip Island than I remember, especially at the last corners and at Turn Three. The track has just been used a little bit more, but it is not bad.”
Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) recovered well enough from a recent ankle strain to finish 13th on day one.
Oliver König (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was 19th on Friday. In his second WorldSBK race weekend Kyle Smith (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) started out in 22nd position, learning his way around the circuit on his 1000cc machine.
2022 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
2022: Races 33, Wins 5, Podiums 27, Superpoles 5
Career Race Wins: 117 (102 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 242 (200 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 40 (36 for Kawasaki)
2022: Races: 32, Wins 0, Podiums 2, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 31 (11 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: 176 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 518 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 105 – second overall