Jonathan Rea reveals Repsol Honda MotoGP contact and Aprilia rejection

Jonathan Rea reveals his management contacted Repsol Honda over a potential 2019 MotoGP ride and says he has previously been approached by Aprilia

Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki Racing Team 1200

Jonathan Rea has revealed his manager made contact with Repsol Honda about a potential deal for the 2019 MotoGP World Championship season before the team opted to sign Jorge Lorenzo instead.

The Ulsterman, now a five-time WorldSBK Champion, has long been considered the most talented rider not currently competing in MotoGP but has remained fairly coy on the likelihood of whether he will ever make the step.

However, he reveals there were initial discussions about the prospect of joining the title-winning team alongside Marc Marquez at Repsol Honda when Dani Pedrosa announced he would retire at the conclusion of the 2018 season.

He says though the was ‘put on the backburner’ and as a result penned a new deal with Kawasaki which will take him to the conclusion of the 2020 WorldSBK season.

Adding that he has also previously been approached by Aprilia for a MotoGP ride too, Rea admits the chance to race in the top flight would be ‘a dream’

“I doubt Kawasaki will go back to MotoGP. That would be a dream, but I’ve never had the conversation and I don’t feel it in my body. Options I’ve had? Not many to be honest. I hear the same things, “you’re here and you should do this”. In an ideal world I’d love to go and pick what I wanted and do it. 

“In the past, there have not been too many options. Nothing concrete, for sure. I think the year Dani Pedrosa was talking about retirement, I think it was around the Le Mans weekend, Chuck (Aksland, Rea’s manager) was trying to get me on the Repsol bike – maybe I was out of contract at Kawasaki. 

“It would’ve been cool to go there. It was a backburner deal; I was put on a backburner. I felt like the Jorge Lorenzo thing was happening at Honda. Aside from that, Aprilia came to see me once. That wasn’t something I was really that interested in.”

Will Jonathan Rea ever step up to MotoGP?

Though Rea has been loosely linked with MotoGP in the past, ever since he made the move to Kawasaki – essentially ending any hopes of making a seamless transition to the premier class – the rumours have been tenuous.

However, these comments suggest Rea has been canvassing his options, but perhaps shows he will only make the move with a team that would make him instantly competitive.

While Repsol Honda might have considered Rea over Lorenzo with the benefit of hindsight, it’s hard to imagine the Ulsterman was ever within a shout compared with the Spaniard at the time.

The approach from Aprilia shows even factory teams are interested in Rea and though he doesn’t state when they enquired, there were rumours the Italian firm contacted him in the wake of Andrea Iannone’s then provisional drugs ban.

For Rea to make the move from his successful and lucrative Kawasaki WorldSBK it would take a fairly significant front-running factory-based deal to lure him over, but the top teams in MotoGP aren’t in the habit of deviating from the grand prix ranks when it comes to taking a punt on a new rider.