Every rider has his own pre-event rituals and Honda World Superbike star Jonathan Rea is no different. But since the announcement that he and his Australian wife Tatia would become parents in September — the Ballyclare man is showing his paternal instincts, even on the build up to his ‘home’ round at Donington Park this weekend.
“I can’t stop buying bits and bobs for the baby coming and I’m currently in England trying to find a pram that Tatia has been looking for,” quipped Rea, who was multi-tasking whilst en-route to a PR appointment for Honda.
It’s a great way for the Isle of Man based Ulsterman to unwind, and he could be forgiven for feeling stressed, having to deal with a number of frustrating development and racing issues within his Pata Honda set-up thus far — when all his fans want to see him doing is what he does best: winning races.
Unfortunately for Rea, the first four meetings of the year have produced just one podium from eight races: that obligatory step on the box at Assen in the Netherlands and he currently languishes in eighth place in the championship standings.
Outside of that, he has had to endure the pain of watching fellow Brits Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies and Irishman Eugene Laverty all enjoy victories — in what is shaping up to be a three way championship battle between Aprilia, Kawasaki and BMW.
Philosophical and fully committed to the Honda cause, for now, Rea said: “It’s always the same, you get to the end of a season and things are coming good with the bike; then you have a big overhaul and set your sights on bigger goals for the following year.
“Unfortunately for us that overhaul involved a new electronics package, and working with that fly by wire system didn’t inspire confidence, and up to the third round at Aragon it was terrible.”
Looking ahead to Donington Park, he added: “I think I’ve now got the throttle to behave with my hand, so this weekend we should be able to get the best out of the package.
“Donington is a fast and flowing circuit which should suit us. Yes we have a bike that’s 10-15kph slower than the factory bikes down the straights, and in the past I would have buried my head in the sand, but now I’m realistic. We didn’t have a winning bike up to now, but I’m doing the best I can — and I comfortable in the knowledge that’s all I can do.”
Rea tasted victory in the second race at Donington Park last season, and took fourth place in the opener, so I asked him could he repeat that success this time around?
“I don’t see why not. It will be tough against the full factory efforts, but I want to win races and with the improvements we have made I think we can show our potential this weekend.”