Belfast Telegraph

World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea was always destined for greatness

By Paul Lindsay

Former Grand Prix racer and three-time British Superbike champion Niall Mackenzie, now a TV pundit on British Eurosport and a racing mentor with Red Bull, said Jonathan Rea was always destined for greatness.

"I've followed Johnny Rea for a long time and when he first went to the Red Bull selection event for a British championship place, he was the standout performer," said Mackenzie whose sons both currently compete in the BSB series.

"He's got something special and from that day on I've watched him in 125cc, Supersport and Superbike, as I've been around pretty much all of his career. The great thing is he's a nice kid and it's easy to admire fast riders when they are genuine, honest and hard working. It's a pleasure to be around them," explained the Scottish ace, who also won British 250cc and 350cc titles during his career.

"Taking all that into consideration, there's nothing better than seeing him go and win the world championship. I've seen him riding quite a few different motorcycling disciplines and he's a talented lad, whatever he puts his hand to. I also raced against his dad," said Mackenzie, who competed against Johnny Rea at the North West 200 during his career.

Rea did get a MotoGP opportunity to stand in for the injured Casey Stoner back in 2012, but for one reason or another his previous employers Honda over-looked him in favour of other riders when seats did become available.

Mackenzie believes it was purely racing politics that has kept Rea out of the premier paddock, but says there's no shame in staying in World Superbike and setting a goal of winning multiple world titles.

"I was at the MotoGP races when Jonathan raced for Repsol Honda and for me he did enough to justify a ride," said Mackenzie, who spent over a decade in Grand Prix racing.

"He did everything he could and its just politics why he didn't get offered a ride. He's certainly good enough and adaptable enough, but there are only so many seats in MotoGP and with so many British riders already in there - I can't see it happening in the near future. But he shouldn't let that worry him. For now he needs to enjoy his achievements and build on his success."

Belfast Telegraph


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