Jonathan Rea poised as he goes from hunted to hunter in 2022 WorldSBK

Jonathan Rea eases into his new status as 'title chaser' against Toprak Razgatlioglu as he looks to reclaim his throne ahead of the 2022 WorldSBK season

Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki Racing Team, Kawasaki ZX-10RR, 2022 WorldSBK

Jonathan Rea says he feels better prepared than ever for a WorldSBK Championship campaign as he prepares for his first season since 2014 as a rider hunting down a rival to reclaim his title trophy.

Rea’s spectacular six-year reign as WorldSBK Champion came to a conclusion last season after he was defeated in a fierce season-long tussle with Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu. It means the 2022 WorldSBK first season will be his first since 2015 that he has not started a campaign with Kawasaki as defending champion.

Despite the defeat, it was still a positive campaign for Rea as he consolidated his runaway status as far and away the most successful Superbike rider of all-time, adding 13 wins to a tally that now totals 112.

Looking to harness his new ‘title chaser’ status as he reverts back to his #65 plate, Rea says he has taken advantage of the ‘perks’ that come with not being champion to recalibrate for a renewed effort.

“It has been a  long season, but it’s been good to get some rest and I’ve spent a lot of time with my coach and training. When you’ve won and you’re pulled from pillar to post, but this was the first time I’ve enjoyed going home and spending time with my kids

“Now it is time to go back to work, which I got to do in a calm and easy way. The team have been incredible, working hard because last year we needed to improve and I need to improve as well. 

“I’ve learned some things about myself and the bike, I am looking forward to this season. Excited to get going.”

With Rea’s strong start to the 2021 season coming undone with a handful of uncharacteristic errors, brought about by a combination of pushing his Kawasaki ZX-10RR to the limit against a rider able to brake and corner with supreme confidence, the Ulsterman is optimistic he is better prepared for 2022.

“In the braking area there are some improvements to be made, I made too many mistakes last year but also how I approach the weekend. Sometimes I doubted myself and I shouldn’t do that because then you back it up, but I have renewed enthusiasm, I just need to put that into practice.

“I stuck to the same plan, the only difference is getting used to starting a championship in April but mentally I am in a great place. I know the little areas I need to work, so I will approach it in the same way but try and curtail the mistakes from the past.”

Rea says he is also paying closer attention to improving the race-length durability of the ZX-10RR package.

“There is no magical fix, everyone is working for marginal gains to try and take the maximum from every session. In the past I have never enjoyed race simulations and I have always left them to the end of testing, but every winter test I have at least completed one or two, which bodes well because I understand the bike more. We know what we’re up against, so we can improve.”