The Montmelo circuit near Barcelona will join the WorldSBK calendar for 2020 and the locally based KRT official WorldSBK team had a chance to test there today, Monday 27 January.
As many of their rivals completed a two-day test at Portimao Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes rode their official Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR machines around the highly regarded MotoGP circuit of Montmelo.
A wet start led to a dry afternoon as the team started working through final aspects of machine set-up, and confirmation of components and ideas tried out during other winter tests. The KRT duo and the team’s technical staff left Montmelo with both valuable data and clearer ideas of the final plans for the opening round of the season in Australia next month.
Jonathan worked on balance and overall set-up on his Ninja ZX-10RR machine while Alex learned not just a new track layout but also more aspects of his Ninja ZX-10RR’s character to take into the first competitive round.
The final pre-season tests will take place at Phillip Island, the venue for the opening round in Australia, just a few days before the start of a whole new racing season. The team launch in Barcelona will take place on February 6, before the long flights down under will begin.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It has been so nice to get this extra day after Jerez, because we got really decent weather, the track was dry and we managed to put in a lot of laps. We were able to back-to-back some items that we were not sure about with the weight balance of the bike in Jerez. In the end we tried something on the front suspension and did some practice starts. The big positive is that I really enjoyed the track and the bike works really well here. I think it sets us up in a good frame of mind now. I feel fast and consistent and this positive test has prepared us to go to Australia, where we will start the new season. Thanks to the team for pulling out all the stops to get us a proper test day here because I know it was not in the plan. Next is the team launch where we get to be all excited about our new colours and then move on.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “I want to say a big thank to KRT for working really hard to get us this extra test. Obviously I have not had too many chances to have dry laps this winter so I really appreciate this extra day at Montmelo. The track is fantastic. It is always exciting coming to a track for the first time. I am getting old now so there are not many tracks I have not ridden! I have really enjoyed it today and I probably learned more about the bike than in the other tests, so that is really positive for me going into Phillip Island. I really enjoyed working with the team and I cannot wait to start racing now.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “Finally it was a very good test for us because Johnny has never raced here and to collect the first information about this track has been great. In another way I am happy because Johnny liked the track and enjoyed riding. I feel the lap time was quite good because we can always compare with MotoGP and I think we did quite well. We also understood the places where we can improve. We reached the target we had to collect information and we tested something in the engine that was important to confirm what we had in Jerez. It was positive and we are ready to move to Australia.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Alex Lowes, stated: “We had a very nice test. We had a bit of rain last night but we had some dry conditions. We made only minor changes to the bike compared to the Jerez machine and straight away Alex was fast. There were two items remaining for the test and we confirmed them here. We finished very close to Johnny and also over distance Alex was fast. We used this test to the maximum, we are completely on target and ready for Phillip Island.”
The Puccetti Racing WorldSBK team was out in force at the Portimao tests from 26 to 27 January with new rider Xavi Fores understanding more and more about his 2020 Kawasaki machine as he returns to WorldSBK from BSB.
The WorldSSP Kawasaki Puccetti Racing duo of Lucas Mahias and Philipp Öttl continued their pre-season preparations with Mahias working on development and Öttl learning more about his machine and tyres in a whole new category for him.