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World Superbike title chase is just not important now, says Jonathan Rea

 

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Other priorities: Jonathan Rea is more worried about fighting coronavirus

Other priorities: Jonathan Rea is more worried about fighting coronavirus

Jonathan Rea

Jonathan Rea

Other priorities: Jonathan Rea is more worried about fighting coronavirus

Five-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea insists winning a sixth title means nothing compared to fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

"I don't really care about the Championship - I care about people getting better again and relieving the stress on the NHS staff and hospitals," said the 33-year-old Templepatrick rider.

Although the next proposed round of the Championship is supposed to be at Assen in Holland in mid-April, Rea is not so sure.

"It's strange that Assen hasn't been postponed yet. It's clear the virus is not under control and I'm sure with all the travel restrictions we'll be at a standstill maybe well into July at the earliest," he said.

"It may not be a full 13-round series, but organisers will want the Championship finished and they will be trying their best to get it done. I'm champing at the bit to get back on my bike, I really miss it, I miss my team - I miss everybody. But that's not important right now."

Rea also believes the mental challenge of staying indoors for the foreseeable future is a major issue.

He has set up his own YouTube channel with "cool content" including cookery and teaching his four-year-old son to ride a motorbike.

"What's more important now is the mental aspect - I've a back garden to get out to escape to but many people aren't that fortunate so it's important people stay mentally strong throughout this period," Rea added.

"They just have to pick the simplest things that make them happy and try to achieve that goal that day because I can see that being a huge problem. I usually live my life at 200mph so to completely stop is going to be a big change.

"It's about people being clever and not panicking. With panic buying, I just don't understand people going out and buying so much as if stores are going to close their doors. Everyone will still have essential needs.

"It's going to be a challenge in the next few weeks, especially with kids off school. We just have to go with it and fight this pandemic. It's about good hygiene, staying away from those most vulnerable and getting through this as best we can."

With all motorcycle sport in Ireland and indeed the rest of the world on hold indefinitely due to the pandemic, the Cookstown-based Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Team, like everyone else, have been left frustrated with the current situation but are already looking towards 2021.

Team principal John Burrows said: "No one could have foretold what was going to happen with the coronavirus outbreak this year and of course we are all disappointed as a team that we won't be going racing for some time, but racing takes a back seat under these circumstances with the health of everyone the biggest priority.

"I have two elderly parents and they, along with my family, are my biggest concern right now.

"We had big plans for this season with Paul Jordan and Mike Browne joining the team and with racing most likely to be wiped out, I see little reason to change things for 2021 and my plan is to keep both riders with the team."

Magherafelt man Jordan commented: "I'm gutted with how things have turned out this year. I've trained harder than ever over the winter and I've never been fitter.

"However, we have to be patient and look at the bigger picture as we are unlikely to be going racing any time soon.

"I'm grateful that I've joined a team like John's, who has come out and said I still have a ride on his bikes next season. John has put a huge effort into the 600cc Yamaha that he has got me for the roads and I just wanted to get out there and ride the wheels off it and repay him for that."

Browne, from Cork, said: "From a racing point of view it's a disaster, but things have obviously changed in a big way and we are all in the same boat.

"The situation has become a lot more serious and I'm worried about my family like everyone else. If things change for the better at a later date and we go racing, I'll be ready.

Belfast Telegraph