Reigning five-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea has become one of Northern Ireland's highest-earning sports stars after signing a 'deal for life' with his Kawasaki team.
Templepatrick-based Rea will continue his record-breaking partnership with Kawasaki on what was described as a new multi-year contract, which effectively means that the 33-year-old will end his racing career with the Japanese manufacturer.
Although the exact length of his new contract has not been made clear, it is likely to be a minimum of two years and worth approximately €1.5m (£1.35m) per season.
A delighted Rea said: "I'm super happy to sign this new contract with Kawasaki. What we have achieved together is incredible. This period away from racing has reignited a burning desire to keep winning and continue to improve my skills and the package of our bike.
“Racing never stands still and all the riders and manufacturers are continuing to improve — we must do the same. The full focus now is on the 2020 season, where racing will resume soon. I want to thank Kawasaki, the team and all my sponsors for their continued support and this great opportunity.”
With just one round of the 2020 championship completed at Phillip Island in Australia back in February, before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Rea currently lies in fourth position in the championship some 19 points behind championship leader, his team mate Alex Lowes, and on course to challenge for a record sixth title.
With the series set to resume in August, Rea is scheduled to begin tests for the Kawasaki team at Misano in Italy and Montmelo in Spain near the team’s base in Barcelona next week.
The most successful World Superbike rider of all-time with five successive championships under his belt, and undefeated since moving to Kawasaki in 2015, Rea has claimed 170 podiums, including 89 race wins. Respected throughout the motorcycle racing world, he is a huge part of the Kawasaki family and a superb ambassador for Northern Ireland.
Team Manager Guim Roda commented: “Everyone in the team is delighted that Jonathan will be with us again. Everyone involved understands that this is a long-term project and that continuity and success go hand in hand. Jonathan has incredible talents that are very rare and to keep him as part of the team gives us a chance to create yet more World Superbike and racing history.”
Jonathan has become the ‘face of Kawasaki’ and has the full support of wife Tatia, his two children Jake and Tyler, plus his whole extended family as he is about to embark on another chapter of his amazing career.
The question now is can Rea make it six titles in a row and will his new contract see him become more involved with the development of the new generation Kawasakis after his racing career?