WorldSBK champ Jonathan Rea responds to those Yamaha MotoGP rumours

Six-time WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea says he is 'surprised' by the talk linking him to a move into MotoGP with the Petronas SRT Yamaha team

Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki Racing Team 2021

Jonathan Rea has reacted with ‘surprise’ over talk he could be one of the riders being targeted by Yamaha to step up to the MotoGP World Championship in 2022.

The Ulsterman casually dismissed the rumours as he prepares for this weekend’s Dutch WorldSBK round at Assen, where he will be bidding to reclaim his championship lead from Toprak Razgatlioglu.

Rea was identified as a potential - if unlikely - target for Yamaha as it looks to organise its rider line-up for the 2022 MotoGP season in the knowledge at least one of its seats will be free with the impending exit of Maverick Vinales.

As it stands, Vinales will leave the Yamaha Factory outfit a year earlier than expected ahead of a much rumoured move to Aprilia. In his place is likely to come Franco Morbidelli, who will step up from Petronas SRT Yamaha, thus leaving a vacant seat there.

However, the Malaysian-backed team could be faced with two empty slots depending on whether Valentino Rossi opts to continue, retire or switch to VR46 Racing.

Nevertheless, Rea - a six-time WorldSBK champion and regarded as the best rider not competing in the premier class - plays down this talk ahead of Assen.

"Of course, I don’t want to speak about that in the middle of a race weekend at all,” he told the official WorldSBK website. “But of course I read the same things as you and was equally as surprised."

Why won’t Jonathan Rea swap WorldSBK for MotoGP?

The Ulsterman’s sheer success in WorldSBK means he is frequently linked with a move into MotoGP but his association with Kawasaki means he is now unlikely to do so.

Rea has developed a close relationship with Kawasaki that arguably runs beyond simply representing it on track. He has had a hand in developing its new ZX-10R sportsbike and he is a glowing ambassador for the Japanese firm.

He is also in the first year of a three-year contract, one many suspect could see him hang up his helmet at the conclusion of the 2023 season.

With this in mind he has given little hint that he’d be willing to switch both series’ and manufacturers at this stage in his career.

So while Rea was likely on Yamaha’s list to discuss, it’s unlikely it would have reached the stage of picking up the phone.

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