WorldSBK

Jonathan Rea would swap WorldSBK for ‘right package in MotoGP’

Jonathan Rea would move to MotoGP on the 'right package' but the man himself says he doesn't even get approached by tail-end teams

Jonathan Rea would be prepared to make a full-time move to the MotoGP World Championship on the ‘right package’ according to his manager, though rumours linking him with a shock move to the Ducati Corse team have been laughed off.

The Ulsterman has called WorldSBK his home since 2009 when he made his full-season debut with Ten Kate Honda, a tenure that raised speculation at the time he was being groomed for a move to MotoGP with the manufacturer.

Save for a two-race stint in 2012 replacing the injured Casey Stoner on the factory Repsol Honda, Rea was never considered for a full-time ride, prompting him to jump ship to Kawasaki in WorldSBK in 2015.

Since then Rea has dominated the series, winning five consecutive titles and becoming an ambassador for the Kawasaki brand. However, the Japanese manufacturer’s exit from MotoGP has limited any opportunity to join the premier class.

Nonetheless, while a rumour in the Italian press linking him to Ducati was laughed off by Rea’s manager Chuck Akslund – ‘I talk to a lot of manufacturers about a lot of things, but not with Ducati about MotoGP’ – he does admit an offer on the ‘right package’ would pique his interest.

“Jonathan's priority is to stay in the Superbike World Championship," Rea’s manager Chuck Akslund told Speedweek.de. “To take the step into the MotoGP World Championship at 33, you would have to offer him the right package. Then he would certainly be interested. But this package would have to be very good to lure him away from the Superbike World Championship.”

Rea, meanwhile, plays down the prospect of going to MotoGP, revealing he doesn’t even receive interest from tail-end teams. Even so, he says is ‘something better comes’ he would think about it.

“I'm not saying anything bad about MotoGP. MotoGP is the top of motorcycle racing. It's not that drivers can choose their options, they get them and have to deal with them. We cannot determine our future ourselves. I can't say I want to ride for Repsol Honda or Monster Yamaha MotoGP.

“I've talked to the MotoGP team many times during my career - talked a lot. Sometimes I got a provisional offer on the table. However, I have never had a MotoGP team's contract ready for signature. Not even from a private team that drives in the rear.

“The reality is that with Kawasaki I have a great team that gives me the opportunity to win races. When something better comes around the corner that excites me more, then of course I think about it.”

Could Jonathan Rea ever move up to MotoGP?

It’s a conundrum for Rea, who at 33-years old is certainly in the latter half of his motorcycle racing career. When he signed with Kawasaki he knew he’d be effectively bidding farewell to his MotoGP dreams since any move would involve an entirely different set of contract negotiations with a different manufacturer, who are unlikely going to meet his lucrative KRT deal.

As Rea says, he’s been approached numerous times but never had a formal offer made, which coupled to his rising stock with every championship win means there are fewer and fewer viable options for someone of his status.

He does deserve a proper shot at MotoGP though. Back when he finished seventh and eighth with no prior testing during his brief 2012 stint it was dismissed as being unspectacular. However, as time as progressed, the methodical periods of rider development in the grand prix paddock means those results look pretty strong today.

Rea’s future which could range from everything between MotoGP, swapping WorldSBK teams, re-signing with Kawasaki and retiring at the end of 2020 centres around Kawasaki’s plans for the next generation ZX-10RR, which is likely to follow a high-power course set by Ducati and now Honda.

Though there is little or no information about what Kawasaki is planning, it is thought to be developing it around its WorldSBK effort, much like Honda did with its new Fireblade, with a track debut in 2021.

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