Jonathan Rea ‘considered retirement’ after 2015 WorldSBK title win

Jonathan Rea considered quitting motorsport when he won the 2015 WorldSBK Championship and admits he 'wishes' he'd had a chance to go to MotoGP

Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10RR

Jonathan Rea has revealed he considered hanging up his leathers in the wake of his maiden WorldSBK Championship title in 2015 having now fulfilled his objective of becoming a world champion.

The Ulsterman ended his long wait for a WorldSBK title in a dominant 2015 campaign, his first season competing with the Kawasaki Racing Team.

Coming after six gruelling seasons with Honda, during which he scored victories but suffered a series of injuries, Rea says achieving title glory in style on the Kawasaki ZX-10R with 14 victories gave him the urge to go out on a high.

“I was thinking about retirement in 2016,” he said. “My goal in the past was to win at least a World Title. My grandfather always used to tell me: “One day you will become a World Champion” and I have always kept this with me. 

“It was something for me to hang to. I could have happily retired at the end of 2015, but I am enjoying riding too much that I can’t let go of this feeling. My goal now is to keep trying to win because I am having so much fun!”

Rea has since gone on to become the most successful WorldSBK rider in history, continuing his title-winning run over the next four years with Kawasaki, including a record-breaking fifth championship this season. In total he has 88 wins and 168 podiums from 280 WorldSBK races started.

Jonathan Rea: I wish I had the chance to go to MotoGP…

In a wide-ranging interview published on the official WorldSBK website covering a number of topics, Rea also admitted he’d have liked to have had the chance to compete in MotoGP.

Rea has previously intimated that he extended his stay with Honda in WorldSBK in the hope it would forge a route into the upper echelons of motorsport with the manufacturer. However, save for a two-race outing in 2012 with the Repsol Honda team, he wasn’t considered over riders coming through the 250/Moto2 ranks.

As such, he left to join Kawasaki – which dispersed its MotoGP team in 2009 in order to focus on making a success of its WorldSBK efforts – where he has remained since, scuppering any further chance of an easy route to MotoGP.

“There is a little part of me that wishes I had the chance to go to MotoGP with a competitive package. But I have never had this opportunity so I can’t regret it. I made lots of mistakes but anything I can regret.”

Rea heads into the 2020 WorldSBK season chasing a record-breaking sixth title with Kawasaki but could face new threats in the wake of a shake up among riders around him.

Alex Lowes replaces Leon Haslam alongside him in the KRT team, while Scott Redding progresses from BSB to take the Ducati seat vacated by Alvaro Bautista, who heads to the new HRC Honda team with its new Fireblade.

The rider Rea considered to be the most ‘naturally talented’ rider he has seen, Toprak Razgatlioglu, meanwhile heads to Pata Yamaha alongside Michael van der Mark, while Rea’s former team-mate (and foe) Tom Sykes is expected to pose a challenge in 2020 on the improving BMW S1000RR.