Last Sunday’s thrilling end to the 2014 World Superbike championship season in Qatar also marked the conclusion of one of the longest and most successful racing partnerships that the series has ever seen.
After six seasons with the official Honda World Superbike team, run from the Ten Kate Racing workshops in the Netherlands – plus a year in the World Supersport championship with the same outfit – Jonathan Rea will begin the 2015 season with a new challenge.
Year one of the partnership between Rea and the Ten Kate Honda team yielded six World Supersport podiums and three race wins. When he stepped up to World Superbikes and the Honda Fireblade in 2009, Rea began a remarkable record that has seen him take at least one race victory every year.
With the culmination of the 2014 season, that win tally stands at 15, with a total of 41 podium finishes. Rea currently sits 12th in the all-time World Superbike championship win list, with all those victories having been achieved with one team on Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade.
Indeed, Rea’s entire road racing career to date has been on Honda machinery, beginning with the Red Bull Rookies programme and, in 2003 at the age of 16, competing in the British 125cc championship.
After an injury-blighted season in British Supersport in 2004, Rea progressed to the British Superbike championship in which he finished as runner-up to Honda team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari in 2007, before stepping up to the World Supersport championship with the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team.
Rea’s Honda career has also taken him to the Suzuka 8Hours race in Japan, which, in 2012, he became the first British rider to win. Later that year, Rea also stood in for the injured Casey Stoner on the Repsol Honda RC213V at the Misano and Aragon MotoGP rounds.
At a recent World Superbike championship round, representatives from title partner Pata, Honda Motor Europe and the Ten Kate Racing organisation took an opportunity to acknowledge Rea’s contribution with a specially-designed montage representing his Honda career. It seemed a fitting way to thank the 27-year-old for his services to Honda and to the team, and to wish him and his family the best for the future.
Kawasaki has announced that Jonathan Rea will partner Tom Sykes in a two-pronged KRT attack on the 2015 FIM Superbike World Championship.
British rider Rea (27) is no stranger to the Superbike World Championship class having made 140 race starts and taken 15 victories since his first full season of participation in 2009.
Rea has scored four race wins in the recently competed 2014 championship season and his addition to the squad alongside 2013 champion Sykes demonstrates the strong commitment Kawasaki and the KRT squad have to regaining the championship in 2015. KRT now has two of the top three riders in the 2014 championship signed up for 2015.
KRT will start their drive to regain the title when they begin their heavy testing schedule this month in Spain.
Guim Roda – Team Manager of KRT commented: “After three years working with Loris Baz to grow up a young talent, we will start in 2015 a new strategy, with an experienced and fully formed rider Johnny Rea. We are sure he can increase the whole team performance and he will be a very good team-mate with Tom Sykes. Both have a big respect for each other, and I’m sure both guys will increase their performance, searching the limits of the Ninja ZX-10R. We expect to put on track two very strong riders next year so it is our idea try to win back the title with our two British weapons.”
Pere Riba – Jonathan Rea’s Crew Chief commented: “I am very happy that a rider with this kind of level of experience is coming to our Kawasaki team. For me, and all the team, this makes us feel very happy. I believe we have shown that we have a good base and we are working hard to have an even better bike. I believe we can give the tools to Jonathan so he will be fighting for the championship. We will start the winter tests very soon and I feel very positive that Kawasaki took the decision to have Jonathan in the team. As a crew chief we will try to give him the best not only technically but also helping him in general and I am sure we can have a good year.”
Steve Guttridge – Kawasaki Race Panning Manager commented: “The opportunity to sign a rider of Johnny’s calibre and experience to race alongside our established hero Tom Sykes was a dream we’d studied every season but this time it could come true! Johnny is super-motivated to make the next step in his career and thankfully it is with Kawasaki. We will give him all the tools necessary to make that next step in the Superbike World Championship with our great crew and bike. He himself as a character has a big potential to add to our team’s overall success, both on and off the track, and his personal enthusiasm to succeed alongside Tom can only lift the Kawasaki Racing Team and our brand to the next level in 2015.”
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