Jonathan Rea Signs On For Two More Years With Kawasaki In WorldSBK

The first domino in the WorldSBK Silly Season has fallen. Jonathan Rea has signed on with Kawasaki for two more years, and will remain on a ZX-10R until at least the end of 2020.

Rea's signing with Kawasaki did not come as much of a surprise, after his failure to secure a ride in the MotoGP paddock. Rea had been linked with the Repsol Honda ride in MotoGP, though he was never the highest priority for HRC, and had spoken to other factory-backed teams as well. But MotoGP teams prefer to fish from the pool they know, taking riders from Moto2 rather than considering the talent in WorldSBK.

With Rea signed, other riders and teams in the WorldSBK paddock should start to finish up their negotiations. There are substantial rumors that Tom Sykes could leave Kawasaki, making room for a possible switch by Michael van der Mark. Chaz Davies is likely to continue at Ducati, though he too has expressed an interest in seeking out a good ride in MotoGP. The prospect of the Ducati Panigale V4 is tempting both to Davies, and to other riders in the paddock chasing the second seat in the team, if Marco Melandri either decides or is forced to leave.

Below is the press release from Kawasaki announcing the signing:

Rea And KRT Join Forces Again

Jonathan Rea has signed a new contract with Kawasaki to remain in the WorldSBK championship as an official KRT rider for two more years. This is an agreement that seals the commitment of both the three-time World Champion and the most successful WorldSBK manufacturer of recent years to each other - and to WorldSBK racing.

Rea had several options for 2019 and beyond but has elected to stay loyal to Kawasaki and the WorldSBK championship paddock he has ridden in since 2008. Rea has secured three consecutive World Championships since he joined the Akashi based manufacturer in 2015.

Rea and Kawasaki has been a winning partnership since their first season together, with Rea becoming the most successful WorldSBK rider ever, in terms of race wins, at the most recent event in Brno.

Jonathan’s legendary self-belief is mirrored by his confidence in the future of both Kawasaki’s WorldSBK racing efforts and the increasing profile of WorldSBK racing.

Over the past three-and-a-half seasons Jonathan has enjoyed a wins-per-race ratio of just under 50% since he joined Kawasaki. He is already the most successful Kawasaki WorldSBK rider in history, with his 45 victories taken on either the Ninja ZX-10R or Ninja ZX-10RR.

Re-signing Rea underlines Kawasaki’s commitment to be an integral part of the WorldSBK Championship itself and its desire to continue its development of ever-improving machines for both the marketplace and WorldSBK racing use.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am more than happy to continue in these next two seasons with the Kawasaki Racing Team. Since the end of last season we have already started to talk about continuing our partnership, so it’s nice to finalise everything now, so that we can concentrate on the remaining races of 2018. From the moment I arrived at the end of 2014 I was welcomed into the Kawasaki family and since then we have achieved success beyond our wildest dreams. Here is where I want to stay. Of course it feels natural to keep writing this incredible story together, and I want to thank everyone in the Kawasaki Racing Team for believing in me and for this opportunity. Together we will work harder than ever to keep the ZX-10RR at the front of WorldSBK in the future. I have the best team of people around me to ensure that we can continue fighting for the World Championship.”

Steve Guttridge, Kawasaki Race Planning Manager, stated: “Signing Jonathan originally was so cool. The foundation for his dominance was built up very quickly. JR deciding to say with KRT after three World Championships and breaking records is actually even cooler. All those strong relationships can remain in place. It is the same goals and motivations that we share with JR, and the dedicated KRT crew, engineers and team staff. To continue making history together with Kawasaki inside WorldSBK.”

Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, stated: “We can celebrate that Johnny decides to stay two more years in Kawasaki and running in WorldSBK. It is important that he has decided that WorldSBK is the place that still makes him motivated. I’m sure many fans would like to see him running with the top guys in MotoGP, but we can ask the guys from MotoGP to come here to see the battle too. The level Rea has now is so high and this only will make the level of other riders and manufacturers in WorldSBK increase. All will be forced to give their maximum to beat Johnny, so we all must be happy and motivated. Of course, we all will continue working to improve the package so I’m sure the show will continue. Other riders and manufacturers will need to work hard if wants to have the honour of being a WorldSBK Champion. The show must go on.”


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Should we still pass around a hat to contribute money to put him on a GSXR1000?

I was excited when I saw that he was out of race 2 recently - and I like Rea! That is a bad sign. Steve's article titled "What to expect at (round)" I glance at, say "Rea wins" and don't feel like reading it.


p.s. Pons just let Hector Barbara go from his Moto2 ride on the spot for a drunk driving arrest, perhaps also aware that he had a domestic violence accusation while in MotoGP. Plus he wasn't a top 10 rider. I am feeling grumpy, time for more coffee rather than ponder complaints.

Someone start beating Rae please

One star

... the others are starting to up their game, but I too was hoping Rea would go somewhere, anywhere, in the hope it would stir the pot in what is a pretty tepid championship right now.  Yamaha are going ok, those wins have not been gifted them.  The championship needs a decent Honda, and obviously Suzuki!  The V4 Duc might shake the tree a little bit, and rumours suggest Melandri might go to Yamaha so we might see a new face on the other Duke.

Just in time for Yamaha to start trouncing Rea, and the new Ducati V4 to keep him down. Let’s see how arrogant he is when he doesn’t have the best bike in the paddock. Finally, WSBK races worth watching!


Cheers to the Duc V4 agreed!

(And echoes of the Honda V4 Superbike homologation special that was completed on the design side, rumoured to be en route, while Rea was toodling around on the Fireblade. Doesn't that seem like forever ago?)

Who might get the Ducati seat? Is there a rumor mill favorite? Hungry kid? Thankful for a game changer bike on the horizon.

The Yamaha has come into form, growing pains shaken out. Both the glorious Aprilia and BMW are past their prime. The Suzuki has nothing coming (but the zero electronics 750 really IS a cindarella sweet spot still eh?). Honda is asleep for now. Who is next to come out with a Superbike advancement after Ducati?

Kawasaki again. New rules notwithstanding...a rev limit review is at hand. How will that come in? NO idea here. Anyone have thoughts?

p.s. Camier doesn't look done rising, will this Honda get a bit more revs as the non-Cosworth kit is ironing out? This is my only pick for a mid season perk up. Yamaha looks steady rise. Remember how much better the Aprilia was under the higher level of tune a few years ago? Me too but I don't see a few revs doing much, and appreciate the engine build there on that beast. Likewise appreciating the state of tune of this twin Ducati- quite an elegant monster this. Enjoying its encore closing performance, hell of an era.

Rea is the best rider in WSBK, and that was obvious even when he was on the slow Honda. A move to MotoGP would have soothed your angst.

Arrogant? Well all these guys are very driven, how do you know Rea is more arrogant than Sykes or Melandri for example?

In the form of the Panigale V4. An invigorated Duc effort, Yamaha are getting closer, maybe, just maybe 2019 will put a lil’ more spice in the series.

Still, it’s disappointing that The Big H let Ten Kate fight the battle on their behalf and “GSXR - own the the race track” has become “GSXR - what race track?”.

Fingers crossed. The new V4 Ducati, more competitive Yamaha & slightly improved Honda may improve the level of competition in SBK.

Oh yes, Jonathan & Tom not the best of teammates may also add some interest.

We'll see.

I was in th U.K. making my way home from the Isle of Man & Donington.

Back at home in Australia now. My usual routine should be re-established, for a bit.

Next likely trip would be Darwin in the northern territory Australia. then a couple of Australian championship rounds.

My next overseas trip is to Buriram / Chang then Sepang for MotoGp in October this year.

I may even get to the U.S. some time next year. Would love to catch up if possible, regards Apical.

Even though I'm a Team Green fan, I was hoping Rea would sign elsewhere, both for a shake up of the championship and to enhance his legacy as a champion. Winning championships on multiple marques helps to answer critics (like above) that he can be successful on bikes that aren't considered the best in the field (though thought he'd already done that at Honda...).