Could Yamaha approach Jonathan Rea for the Petronas 2022 MotoGP seat?

The prospect of Petronas SRT Yamaha linking up with Jonathan Rea for the 2022 MotoGP season might not be as unlikely as it may seem...

Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki Racing Team 2021

Yamaha has been busy flicking through its little black book of contacts as it seeks out which riders could be in line to fill one - maybe two - seats in its four-man line-up for the 2022 MotoGP… and there is talk it could have (briefly) stopped at Jonathan Rea.

The hiatus from the MotoGP paddock has come at a welcome time for Yamaha as it looks to re-arrange its 2022 rider line-up in the knowledge it will be at least one man down come the conclusion of the season, the Iwata marque able to keep its approaches away from the prying eyes of the snoops. 

Though Vinales will exit the Factory set-up, the smart money is on a seat being made available at Petronas SRT in lieu of Franco Morbidelli directly replacing the Spaniard and joining Fabio Quartararo.

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We have already highlighted and assessed the perceived candidates for the seat, a choice that could be doubled up depending on whether Valentino Rossi comes out of the summer break feeling ready to crack on or call it quits.

While Moto2 favourite Raul Fernandez, WorldSBK racer Garrett Gerloff and MotoGP veterans Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci were identified, we deliberately didn’t include one obvious-yet-unlikely option in Jonathan Rea.

Widely regarded as the greatest rider not to try his hand at MotoGP (beyond a two race stint back in 2012 for Repsol Honda subbing for Casey Stoner), Sky Sports Italia reports the six-time WorldSBK Champion has come up in conversation with Yamaha, though it is unclear whether it has gone to the effort of making a formal offer.

Would Jonathan Rea swap Kawasaki WorldSBK for Petronas SRT Yamaha in MotoGP?

The prospect of Jonathan Rea ever making the leap from WorldSBK superstar to MotoGP rookie is a hypothetical that has fascinated us for years… and bothered the man himself with numerous questions too.

At 34-years old, while we’re still a couple of years away from Rea to consider retiring, his advancing years in rookie contexts has led him to say he believes his MotoGP chance has passed him by now. Even then, he has emphasised that he’d only leave Kawasaki - where he is successful, handsomely paid and has a status akin to a managing director of the company essentially - for a comparable MotoGP ride.

That said, while Petronas SRT is the satellite arm of Yamaha, it is a well-funded and well-sorted one capable of race wins - six from 14 races in 2020 - meaning it is probably as competitive a machine as Rea would hope to get realistically.

With more than 100 race wins to his name in WorldSBK, Rea has won everything there is to win in the series and while he seems content to just keep churning out the achievements, you get the sense there is definitely a more attractive offer than most could hope to offer the Ulsterman at this stage in his career.