”Thank me later”: Go on-board for Jonathan Rea’s first Yamaha WorldSBK laps

Jonathan Rea has posted raw on-board footage of some of his first laps on his new Yamaha R1 from the Jerez WorldSBK test last month

Jonathan Rea, 2023 WorldSBK Jerez test. - Gold and Goose

Jonathan Rea’s move to from Kawasaki to Yamaha for the 2024 WorldSBK season has been one of the most exciting developments of World Superbikes in 2023,and now you can ride on-board for Rea’s first taste of the R1.

“Thank me later,” were Rea’s words in the factory Yamaha garage before heading out on-track in Jerez, and certainly the proceeding 10 minutes or so are a treat for motorcycle racing fans, as the six-times WorldSBK Champion takes viewers on a tour of Jerez at the beginning of his newest adventure, and his latest quest for title number seven.

First images of Rea on Yamaha WorldSBK

After nine seasons racing with the Kawasaki in WorldSBK, Jonathan Rea has become synonymous with the brand. And so, it looks a little strange to see the Northern Irish rider wearing leathers that don’t even feature a hint of the colour green and with ‘Yamaha’ splashed all over them in big lettering.  

These images are our first look at Rea as a Pata Yamaha rider, following his Kawasaki Racing Team departure which was first announced in September. It’s the third marque he’s ridden for in WorldSBK, with Rea starting his career in the series on a Honda Fireblade

After a near-decade-long stint with Kawasaki that yielded six titles in a row, Rea will be swapping his ZX-10RR for a Yamaha R1, pictured here in a special testing livery and complete with the number 65 markings. On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, he’s taking part in the two-day end-of-season test at Circuito de Jerez in Spain with new teammates Andrea Locatelli, Dominique Aegerter and Remy Gardner.

Speaking about his first experience with the team, Rea said:

“It’s been an incredible first day and it was so surreal putting on my Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK polo – the feeling in blue is really nice – and when I walked into the box, everyone was so enthusiastic. I felt a lot of love and support straight away – the attention to detail on the team is amazing. From even my rider office having personalised logos in there already, to getting perfectly fitted on the bike – the attention to detail on that process was incredible. I just can’t wait now to spin my first laps on the R1.”

Pata Yamaha team principal Paul Denning said meanwhile:

“We witnessed one of the most exciting race performances ever in WorldSBK yesterday afternoon, and here we are only 24 hours later looking forward to a surreal moment. Back in the day, I honestly never dreamed we would get a rider of Jonathan Rea’s stature to join our team and to see him climbing on the R1 today with a huge smile on his face has created an incredibly enthusiastic atmosphere and a lot of hope for the 2024 season.”

Rea replaces Toprak Razgatlıoğlu, who is switching to BMW from the 2024 season onwards. He won’t be taking part in the test with his new team, though - unlike Rea, Toprak hasn’t been released from his contract early and will need to wait until December for his first taste of the M1000RR.