The third round of the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship will be a special one for the Spanish-based KRT team as their riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes take part in the first European-based event of the season, at Motorland Aragon this coming weekend.
With the KRT squad based in Barcelona for many years now the Motorland Aragon round is the closest WorldSBK venue to the team’s headquarters. That in itself makes any Motorland weekend something notable for all in Kawasaki’s official WorldSBK effort, and there have been several notable Aragon race successes to celebrate.
Current WorldSBK points leader and three-time champion Jonathan Rea has scored two wins and seven podiums in all in Aragon. Since joining the KRT squad in 2015 Rea has never finished off the podium at the venue located close to the town of Alcaniz.
After winning race one at Buriram recently, Rea is closing in on record holder Carl Fogarty’s total of 59, with a his winning tally now raised to 55.
Sykes has scored a double win at Motorland for KRT, in 2014, and was on the race one podium last season. Strong practice performances in the opening two rounds this year have not quite been converted into the ultimate results Sykes was aiming for. With second place in the first race of the year his individual highlight so far Sykes is currently seventh overall, but only 26 points from the championship lead.
One more Superpole qualifying success this year and Sykes will go from joint record holder, currently tied with Troy Corser on 43, to the stand-alone record holder.
With new WorldSBK technical regulations brought in this season to reduce the maximum allowable revs – regulations that have affected Kawasaki more than the other manufacturers at present – Rea and Sykes will continue to optimise their bike set-ups in Spain while also competing for valuable points.
After two rounds held at the ‘fly-away’ venues of Phillip Island and Buriram, a return to competition at the well-established Motorland Aragon circuit starts a sequence of five rounds in Europe. After the completion of the Spanish weekend the entire WorldSBK paddock will immediately relocate to the north of the Netherlands, with races at Assen on 21st and 22nd April.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Aragon is a great circuit and one that I really enjoy riding at, although at this time of the year the conditions are generally quite cool. Last season was interesting riding against the Ducatis, to see how the bikes had strengths in different areas. This season we will have to understand how our bike behaves and how competitive we can be – but I am optimistic. Step-by-step I’m starting to feel better with the bike and understand what is required to be fast this season. It’s important to be strong at Motorland, and with Assen coming right after, it could be the most important phase of the championship. Being back in Europe everything is more familiar and ‘normal’, so I am excited to see what this weekend brings.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “Our preparations for Aragon are all good and I am looking forward to it. It is a shame the way things went at times in Australia and Thailand, because we started each race with great potential. I am happy about that and it was just unfortunate that we had a bit of bad luck in Thailand. I have to say that we are really quite strong now, and in a number of areas. The track at Motorland almost flows into one, especially as we have one big left-hander at the end of the lap, not a first gear hairpin we had during the first few times we went there. There are some aspects of how well you exit the corner leading onto the long back straight that makes for a good top speed but the stronger bikes still seem to be able to make it up. Unfortunately, we have less engine revs this year. We will to ride it harder, that’s all there is to it!”
2018 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016 & 2017
2018: Races 4, Wins 1, Podiums 2, Superpoles 1
Career Race Wins: 55 (40 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 114 (72 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 15 (11 for Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2018: Races: 4, Wins 0, Podiums 1, Superpoles 1
Career Race Wins: 33 (33 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 101 (100 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 43 (43 for Kawasaki)
5 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016 & 2017), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
3 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017)
3 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016 & 2017)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 110 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 351 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 75 – second overall