Super new deal means World to Rea
Despite recent speculation that Ballyclare's Jonathan Rea would make a switch to MotoGP for 2014, we can exclusively reveal that the Isle of Man based Ulsterman will remain in World Superbikes for a sixth season next year.
Currently out through injury after breaking a femur in a horror crash at Nürburgring at the start of September, Rea – who is currently under contract with the Dutch based Pata Honda team – will miss this weekend's American round at Laguna Seca.
With his Australian wife Tatia due to give birth to their first child any day, Rea is excited at the prospect of becoming a father, but equally delighted that he has secured a racing contract so early for 2014.
"I'm happy to say that I will be staying in World Superbikes next season, but where I'll be riding cannot be announced until after Laguna Seca," he said.
"I'm really excited about the challenge and to be sorted this early gives me great motivation.When I got home from hospital it was quite a hectic week, and I don't mean with rehab, I mean for 2014, as I had quite a few good offers to think about. I have to say it's a big, big decision to go in the direction I've chosen."
Rea was linked with a switch to BMW prior to this season's WSB championship campaign, and recent paddock gossip has him linked to both Ducati and Kawasaki in World Superbike, not to mention various teams, whom we can now rule out, in the MotoGP paddock.
My gut feeling is that Rea will remain loyal to Honda – as he has done since his tarmac career began back in 2003 – and stay within the Dutch based Ten Kate set-up. The new rules within WSB, where teams will be limited to just eight engines in 2014, should bring Pata Honda closer to the big money boys.
With Aprilia, BMW and Kawasaki reputed to be currently using 30 engines per rider, then the new rules will certainly give the factory teams a winter of head scratching prior to next season. Basically it means that the title, in real terms, should be won on merit and not purchased by those with the biggest wallet.
The pin inserted into Rea's left leg to repair his broken femur, will remain in place for 12 to 18 months, but the 26-year-old hopes to be back in action in some capacity, during the final round of the championship on October 20 at Jerez; even if it means testing post-event with his team of choice for 2014.
"I'm currently walking and doing all my activity on the 'nail' they've inserted in my leg. There's no sign of bone growth just yet. Today I'm having further X-Rays to see what progress it's making," Rea (pictured) added.
"Yes I could probably ride a bike right now, but I couldn't afford to crash. The team has been great with me and we haven't set a return date, but I'd like to do something before the season breaks up.
"But there's nothing to gain by missing three races then coming back for the last one at Jerez. For now my focus is on our new arrival at home."