Steve English

Opinion: It Isn't Kawasaki Who Should Be In MotoGP

Jonathan Rea on the WorldSBK Kawasaki ZX10-RR

Why don’t Kawasaki race in MotoGP? It’s a question asked almost as frequently as why doesn’t Jonathan Rea switch to MotoGP? The simple answer is money. For a fraction of the money Kawasaki spent to finish at the back of a MotoGP field they’ve been able to dominate the Superbike World Championship for the best part of ten years.

Six titles in a row and 123 victories since 2011 versus five podiums in six years. The cost of investment in their Superbike project is a fraction of what they spent in MotoGP but their results are enough for them to sell the ZX10-RR as the all conquering Superbike on the planet. It’s a marketing dream compared to the nightmare of trying to sell being a MotoGP backmarker.

Since Rea signed for Kawasaki in 2015 he has won 81 races and six titles as a Kawasaki rider. Aprilia started their MotoGP programme the same year. Who’s had better value for money? There’s only one winner in that discussion.

Teamwork makes the dream work

For a generation Kawasaki has found a partner team. At one point Paul Bird’s squad ran the Kawasaki programme in WorldSBK, with limited success, but since 2012 it has been the Provec Racing operation run by Guim Roda, and the results speak for themselves. First Tom Sykes and presently Rea have dominated to such a degree that the role of Provec is undervalued.

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Jonathan Rea at Kawasaki: Why would he leave? Why should he leave?

Jonathan Rea on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR at the 2020 Phillip Island WorldSBK round - photo by Steve English

The news that Jonathan Rea had re-signed with Kawasaki was met with almost universal ambivalence. There are lots of pros and cons to Rea staying put. From a racing perspective, why would he leave? He has a team centred around him with a proven track record of success. What could motivate him to move? A new challenge is the reason most cited.

In 2014 there was a general feeling in the WorldSBK paddock that Rea was a rider waiting for the right opportunity to show his true ability. Years on a Honda had seen him at the sharp end of the field, despite racing with a blunt weapon. Switching to the all-conquering Kawasaki gave him the opportunity he had been waiting for.

Five world titles, 74 race wins, and 128 podiums later, and Rea is regarded as the greatest Superbike rider of all-time. There’s nothing left for Rea to prove in WorldSBK so why would he leave? A loyal team, a good bike, a hefty pay cheque and an ambassadorial role with the manufacturer when he retires would certainly make it very difficult to walk away from Team Green.

Dalliances

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Tech Briefs: Team work is the key to success in WorldSBK

Loris Baz at Philllip Island in 2020

A race team is forged on the principle of working together to find solutions. No-one can work i isolation and even though once the lights go out and a rider is out there alone the result will come on the basis of the days building up to that point. Motorcycle is a team sport. It’s the ultimate team sport. We delve into Ten Kate’s garage to see how they all work towards the ultimate goal.

How many times in all walks of life has it been said communication is key? In almost every task undertaken, having a clear plan of attack is the basis of getting the job done well. From childhood to adulthood the tasks change but the process stays the same. A checklist is key to ensuring any job is done correctly and for a race team the goal is to minimise mistakes and maximise efficiency.

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Adapt and survive at Suzuka – How to win as a team

Ego is a crucial part of the successful makeup of any world class racer. They need to have the belief that they are faster than everyone else on the grid. That they can do things that no one else can. That they’re the man for the job. What happens though when you’re forced to check that ego at the garage door? Having that ability can be the difference between winning and losing in Endurance race.

Adapt and survive. It’s rule of law in the natural world but it’s also the only way to be successful in endurance racing. Being a team and working together is the key success at the Suzuka 8 Hours. If you’re Yamaha Factory Racing Team rider Michael van der Mark, you know this better than most.

The Dutch star might be a four-time Suzuka winner, a WorldSBK race winner, and a World Supersport champion but he’s also cast in an unusual role in Japan; the outlier.

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Suzuka 8 Hour Gallery - Steve English Shoots Practice


Suzuka is a race with a rich history and a full factory effort from Honda for the first time years is a real sign of the ever increasing importance of this race once again. Honda had trusted the efforts of supported teams in the past but now they're back and it's a full-fat Fireblade that's in action this weekend. It will take a lot to beat the Yamaha's but this is a good starting point

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Nicky Hayden Tribute Exhibition Opened At Imola

Mirco Lazzari unveiled an exhibition of 69 photographs to remember Nicky Hayden at the Imola WorldSBK round

Mirco Lazzari at the Nicky Hayden exhbition

An exhibition of Nicky Hayden photographs by the Italian photographer Mirco Lazzari opened during the Imola WorldSBK round, aptly named A Million Dollar Smile. With 69 photographs depicting the American's international career, it provided a reminder to fans of what made the Kentucky Kid so popular.

For Lazzari, the challenge of finding the correct pictures was a trying time, with weeks spent to ensure he struck the right chord as the first anniversary of Hayden's death approaches.

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A Life Less Ordinary - Jack Miller On Moto3-MotoGP, The Necessity Of Training, And Lessons Learned

At the Qatar Grand Prix MotoMatters.com sat down with Jack Miller to talk about life lessons and how much his life has changed since claiming his first Grand Prix victory in the desert four years ago.

Jack Miller on the grid at Qatar

Jack Miller poses questions unlike any other racer in MotoGP. Over the last three years the Australian has seen every side of racing. He's gone from being the protégé of HRC fast tracked into MotoGP, to being discarded by them as quickly as he was chosen. Miller was a constant paradox for the paddock during the early steps of his MotoGP adventure.

He was Charlie Bucket handed the golden ticket to the HRC factory, but instead of it being the childhood dream it turned out to be a double-edged sword. In Wonka's World children faced morality tests, and in Miller's World he faced tests of his will. It took Miller time to learn the ways of the world in the premier class, but by the midpoint of his rookie campaign he was certainly showing his promise once again.

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The Education Of Loris Baz: The Frenchman Returns To WorldSBK With A Wealth Of Experience

For most riders age is just a number, but for Loris Baz it's also a virtue. Despite already having six years' experience in world championship racing, the Frenchman returns to WorldSBK as one of the youngest riders in the field

Loris Baz on the Althea Ducati at the Portimao January test in 2018

When Loris Baz first raced in WorldSBK he was one of the rawest prospects on the grid. For Pere Riba, his former crew chief, he was a rough diamond that could be molded into a star. Three years working with the Spaniard turned Baz into a race winner. Three years in MotoGP turned him into a much more complete package, and returning to WorldSBK for 2018 Baz feels primed to show his true potential.

“When you ride with the best guys in the world in MotoGP on a bike that's a bit older you improve a lot,” reflected Baz. “You are always trying to find solutions and find some extra speed. That experience from MotoGP has definitely made me a much better rider and if I had this experience when I was racing in WorldSBK I would have been winning races.

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