After KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes won a WorldSBK race apiece at the previous round at Assen a very different kind of circuit – Imola in Italy – will offer up two more opportunities for podium success soon. The races at Imola will be held on Saturday the 12th and Sunday 13th of May, at what is the fifth stop on the 13-round championship trail.
With the 2018 FIM Superbike World Championship now well underway three-time champion Rea has scored three race wins. With 2013 champion Sykes now back to race winning ways as well, after his victory in race two in the Netherlands, KRT riders have won half of the races so far. This level of success has been achieved despite the Ninja ZX-10RR having the lowest maximum revs of any of the four-cylinder machines – under balancing rules recently introduced to the WorldSBK regulations.
With both official Ninja ZX-10RR riders already proven double race winners for Kawasaki at Imola (Sykes in 2013 and Rea in 2015) a race weekend at Imola is prospect to be relished. The official Kawasaki duo have also enjoyed two days of fruitful testing at Brno in the Czech Republic, shortly after the previous competitive round at Assen, adding more data and track time to their overall Imola preparations.
Rea’s win and second place finish at Assen last time out see him 30 points ahead of his nearest rival in the championship battle, with Sykes’ victory in race two at Assen putting him overall 5th, and only two points from 4th place.
Each KRT rider can make a little bit of history for himself at Imola over the next few days. If Sykes wins the pre-race Superpole qualifying contest it will make him the stand-alone pole position record holder. He currently shares that top honour with Australian legend Troy Corser, on 43 Superpole wins apiece. Already with 57 individual WorldSBK race wins to his credit, a race-winning double from Rea in Italy would draw him level with top-ranked Carl Fogarty in terms of career victories.
This weekend will be the 16th time that WorldSBK has visited the classic parkland circuit in the centre of the city of Imola. The ‘Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola’ is a 4.936km long ribbon of asphalt that winds its way through and around what is normally a public park. Its elevation changes and challenging variety of curves are punctuated by four significant chicanes. Evocative corner names like Tosa, Piratella and Rivazza are well known by motorsports fans all over the globe.
Joining the WorldSBK entry this weekend will be current BSB Championship points leader Leon Haslam, who will ride for the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Team at their home round in Imola, alongside team regular Toprak Razgatlioglu.
After the completion of the Imola race weekend the sixth round of the FIM Superbike World Championship will take place at Donington Park in the UK, between the 25th and the 27th of May.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It’s been a good to be at home and recharge the batteries after our recent back to back races, and then a test in Brno. I’m feeling good ahead of the Imola weekend. It’s a track that has a fun and challenging layout. It’s also been a circuit where we have just lacked that last piece of the jigsaw in recent years so it would be great to try to improve on our most recent Imola form. It’s such a picturesque circuit, and steeped in history, that’s it’s impossible not to enjoy riding there – especially in front of the Italian fans for the first time in 2018. We will be targeting race wins, let’s see if we can do it!”
Tom Sykes, stated: “It’s always a pleasure to go to Imola as it has a good track layout and great fans. I always enjoy myself on Wednesday, thanks to the Italian food and café culture. The easiest way to describe the feeling after my race win at Assen is that normally a win means a celebration, but this time it was a relief. It was also a gentle reminder that I was world champion for a reason. It has given me some self-confidence back. Since then I have been working well and we are starting to get back on the right track. We have had race-winning levels of pace this year but also some bad luck at times. On track at Imola we will work hard with the bike and try to win again.”
2018 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016 & 2017
2018: Races 8, Wins 3, Podiums 6, Superpoles 1
Career Race Wins: 57 (42 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 118 (76 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 15 (11 for Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2018: Races: 8, Wins 1, Podiums 2, Superpoles 1
Career Race Wins: 34 (34 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 102 (101 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: 113 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 356 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 75 – second overall