In one of the biggest motorsport headlines of the year, Jonathan Rea speaks to the media for the first time since the announcement of his Kawasaki departure in a quest for success with Yamaha
Just days after a bombshell announcement, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) spoke to the media for the first time since confirming his departure from Kawasaki at the close of 2023, joining Yamaha in 2024. In what is being widely considered as the biggest move in FIM Superbike World Championship history, the 36-year-old Ulsterman – who has achieved six consecutive World Championships and amassed over 100 wins with Kawasaki – will go into the final four rounds of the year being his last appearances in green. That final third all starts at Magny-Cours, one of his and Kawasaki’s most successful circuits, where the microphones were relatively toasty.
“IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO THE FACT THAT I NEED SOMETHING NEW” – Rea on decision to leave KRT
Addressing his recent announcement to break up one of motorsport’s most successful collaborations in pursuit of a new challenge and a return to title-contending form, Rea said: “As you can imagine, after six World Championships, nine years working together and so many memories, it’s been one of the hardest decisions in my career. In the end, it all boils down to the fact that I need something new, a new challenge and I had the opportunity somewhere else to find that. It’s mixed emotions because it was a very emotional time to leave such a family and a place where I’ve created so many amazing memories, not just on the track but off of it. The time is right to make the next chapter in my career and we’ll deal with that later, but it was a very hard decision.”
The six-time World Champion has always had humility and gratitude towards KRT and indeed the Provec Racing force that steers Kawasaki’s WorldSBK ship. It was the team that allowed him to achieve a childhood dream of becoming World Champion, whilst both would go hand-in-hand as they ripped up previous records like a hurricane. The first rider to win three straight titles would go on to make it six; the first rider to take 100 wins in WorldSBK would go on to win more than 100 races in green and beyond that, would become synonymous with the brand the world-over.
“I’LL NEVER FORGET MY FIRST WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP” – the childhood dream achieved
Recapping some of the success, the first title remains the sweetest: “Of course, I’ll never forget my first World Championship or the first feelings with the team, pleading my team manager Guim to give me a chance on this bike. Rolling up to the first test, working with my mechanics and creating that bond inside the garage. There’re things I’ll take with me in life, such as dealing with people and creating an atmosphere. The team helped me with that and my childhood dream was to be World Champion and I’ll always remember my time with Kawasaki as the people who gave me the chance to fulfil a childhood dream.
“Taking the chequered flag at Jerez in 2015 was incredible and the story we created after that is beyond not just my wildest dreams but you literally couldn’t dream it up. To win six World Championships on the bounce, continuing racing and to win races every year has been phenomenal. There are too many memories; I could go on for hours but it made it even tougher.”
“WE FEEL A BIT SAD; IT’S A REALITY WE HAVE TO ACCEPT” – Guim Roda on Rea’s departure
Team boss Guim Roda shared his thoughts too, with it being a hard pill to swallow but remaining philosophical that it’s racing and anything can happen – on or off the track: “We feel a little bit sad. It’s been a long journey that we’ve been on together. It’s a reality we need to accept, keep working and we will continue our way and try our best. It’s difficult to find one moment because we have so many, but I’d like to mark the moments people can’t see because it happened between races. Those chats, meetings and all this time where he’s been working and talking about how to improve the team, the package, the bike. All these conversations and all this effort, all the mechanical situations with how to improve, all the training programmes… all these things happen between races that people don’t see is maybe one of the key points we’ll keep apart from the success, winning and Championships.”