Jonathan Rea hailed his new two-year contract with the Kawasaki Racing Team as a “natural progression” after achieving unprecedented success with the manufacturer in World Superbikes.
The Northern Ireland rider has won six consecutive titles after joining Kawasaki in 2015, clinching 102 victories along the way and writing his name into the history books as the championship’s most successful ever rider.
He narrowly missed out on a seventh crown in 2021 after a season-long battle with Turkey’s Toprak Razgatlioglu, but Rea is strongly placed to wrestle the title back this year.
The 35-year-old is currently second in the standings after the first five rounds in 2022, and slashed Spaniard Alvaro Bautista’s advantage from 36 points to 17 after three podium finishes at his home round at Donington Park over the weekend.
With his plans now finalised for 2023 and 2024, Rea can now concentrate fully on his bid to win back the world title.
“I am really happy and excited to renew my contract with Kawasaki, to roll on for another two more years,” Rea said.
“It has been an incredible partnership, we have enjoyed so much success together that it is almost a natural progression. There was not much negotiation needed to continue together from both sides.
“It was more a case of how much more motivation I had to keep racing at the highest level in the WorldSBK championship. It has been an incredible few seasons; more competitive than ever.
“Kawasaki gave me the opportunity back in 2015 to realise a childhood dream when I won the WorldSBK championship in the first year together.”
Rea paid tribute to his “racing family” within the Kawasaki Racing Team and said he is motivated to achieve more success over the next few seasons.
“I have realised how motivated I am to continue and to continue fighting to win,” he said.
“As a partnership we are so solid, and I am looking forward to continue making memories and representing an incredible manufacturer and brand.
“My team is my racing family. I love everyone inside the team like my own family and relationships like that count for a lot in racing.
“Huge credit goes to every single person in the staff, from Provec Racing, all the engineers in Japan, and everyone in the Kawasaki family. I am excited to see what we can do over the next two seasons.”
Prior to yesterday’s confirmation of the new deal, Rea stressed the key aspect of his negotiations around extending his contract focused on Kawasaki’s commitment to staying one step ahead of its rivals, with Yamaha and Ducati threatening their dominance in the series.
“I’ve always been well respected by Kawasaki. I feel we have a mutual respect,” Rea said.
“It’s not about the financial package because I feel I have my worth; that’s never a negotiation on both parts.
“For me, it’s about being competitive. You can see my frustrations this year racing with Alvaro [Bautista], last year racing with Toprak [Razgatlioglu]; my team really responded in the off-season, but you can’t just respond in one winter, it has to be an evolution.
“When you negotiate with a manufacturer, it’s more about understanding their future, their ideas for the next model or the next model, or whatever,” he added.
“It’s more about the technical things. I want to put myself in the best possible position.”
Round six of the championship takes place at Most in the Czech Republic from July 29-31.