Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam will get back into full FIM Superbike World Championship action this coming weekend at the popular racing and testing venue of Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto, located in the south of Spain.
The sixth round of the championship will take place at the 4.423km Jerez circuit between 7 and 9 June, one month after Rea won both of the races that survived the unseasonably bad weather conditions that eventually struck on the final day at Imola.
Despite this long gap between the previous and forthcoming rounds both Rea and Haslam have been busy recently. Each took part in successful test sessions at Misano last week and then again at Suzuka in Japan in readiness for their joint attack on the prestigious 8-Hour race in late July.
On the back of his outstanding double WorldSBK race win at Imola, Rea is once again preparing to try and trim the championship lead of his latest rival, Alvaro Bautista, at the Spanish rider’s home event.
Jonathan’s two wins at Imola took his all-time record of WorldSBK race victories to a new tally of 73, and boosted his entire team’s confidence in the process. The double win at Imola also marked the first full points scores for the 2019 Ninja ZX-10RR. Jonathan has scored two of his career race wins at Jerez, for Kawasaki in 2017.
This weekend is an important one for Leon Haslam as it was his first and most significant winter testing venue when he started his transition from being 2018 BSB champion to a top level WorldSBK contender once again.
The Jerez layout has a large variety of corners and just a few changes in elevation – but very short straights when compared to most. It was first used for WorldSBK in 1990, as a one off event. It then came back into WorldSBK use from 2013 to 2017, skipping last season despite it being a popular WorldSBK test venue. Recent Jerez race weekends have been held in the relatively cool autumn period but this year the June date should present hot ambient and track temperatures for the teams to deal with.
Three WorldSBK races, not the previous two, are scheduled for all race weekends this year, despite weather conditions cancelling one race at each of the two most recent rounds in Assen and Imola. The two long WorldSBK races in 2019, one on Saturday and then the finale on Sunday afternoon, bracket a ten-lap ‘sprint’ on Sunday morning. The short Tissot-Superpole race also determines the grid positions for the top nine riders in the final full-length race of the weekend.
In the current championship standings, after five of 13 rounds, Rea is second overall with 220 points and Haslam is fifth, on 108 points.
There will be one free weekend after Jerez and then Misano in Italy will host round six, between 21 and 23 June.
Jonathan Rea: “I’m excited to go to Jerez and understand our potential there. After the race weekend in Imola and a positive test at Misano I feel ready for this next challenge. Jerez is a very nice circuit to ride, especially the fast flowing corners at the end of the lap. It will be important to make a lot of laps during practice to prepare for the races, as it’s the first time we have raced in Jerez during the summer. The temperatures will be much higher than we experienced during our winter tests. With this in mind, we will work hard and try to keep the momentum going.”
Leon Haslam: “We were out testing in November and January at Jerez and the times were competitive. Besides Australia, just before the opening round, Jerez is the first race of the year where I have ridden in a test before going back for a race. I was fast at Jerez in winter testing, at a track where Johnny had been so dominant. There are some areas we have improved on since then too. I hope this weekend we can hit the ground running.”