Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Rea planning fresh Superbikes bid

Jonathan Rea is waving goodbye to MotoGP and staying with the World Superbikes for a fifth season

All that glitters is not gold, as many sporting professionals often find out and, to quote another well used cliché, better the devil you know... which is currently the case for Jonathan Rea.

The Ballyclare rider has re-signed with Ten Kate Honda for a fifth season in World Superbike where he will be joined by fellow British rider Leon Haslam.

The 25-year-old has been on the road trip of all road trips this past few weeks, mixing his Honda World Superbike commitments with a dream call-up from the factory Repsol Honda MotoGP team to replace the injured double world champion Casey Stoner.

Rea did himself proud on his MotoGP debut with the Repsol crew at Misano less than a fortnight ago, finishing in eighth place, but despite all the hype surrounding a potential move to the Gresini Honda satellite squad for 2013, he has opted to remain loyal to Ten Kate Honda in WSB.

“Honda wanted me to ride the Gresini bike but it looks like the team’s title sponsor San Carlo, who do most of their business in Italy and Spain, preferred to stay loyal to Bautista who being Spanish suits them,” explained Rea openly, from his base at Aragon in Spain, where he will compete in his final MotoGP race for the Repsol Honda team this Sunday.

Always careful to play the political game, Rea intimated that the MotoGP deal was far from financially attractive into the bargain, and with Ten Kate securing a €1million title sponsor for 2013 in WSB, with additional factory input on engine and electronic development; added to the fact that Leon Haslam will be his team-mate — then the decision to stay put was fairly straightforward.

“I’m happy with it, and happy to stay and ride alongside Leon who will be a strong team-mate and a great help with development. And with the added input from Honda and a new title sponsor, the goal will be, as it always has been, to be World Superbike champion in 2013.”

Rea wasn’t short on offers and despite playing his cards very close to his chest, we are well informed that BMW and Kawasaki WSB teams both showed an interest. Interest enough that Rea could possibly have taken the BMW deal before Chaz Davies or even Ben Spies were in the equation. That’s his current pedigree.

But, he has remained loyal to Honda, which is a decision that he feels is the best option both contractually and financially. “It probably looks like I’m going to turn into a long term World Superbike rider now, “ he quipped.

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