Mutual respect between the heavyweights in 2020, Jonathan Rea and Scott Redding share the same target: who will it be come the end of the year?
Like in 2019, Jonathan Rea’s (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) biggest rivalry is likely to come from the ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati team and another WorldSBK rookie. Former MotoGP™ podium finisher Scott Redding is the latest big name to make the switch over to WorldSBK action and comes in with one thing on his mind: to beat Jonathan Rea. However, as was demonstrated by Alvaro Bautista in 2019, beating Rea in a race is a completely different thing to beating him over the 39-race season.
Scott Redding and Jonathan Rea have never raced against each other in their careers. When Jonathan headed over to MotoGP™ at the Repsol Honda Team for two races in 2012, Scott Redding was still learning his craft in Moto2™. By the time Jonathan Rea was in WorldSSP in 2008, Scott Redding was already at the sharp end of the 125cc World Championships. Their paths have never crossed but now in 2020, they look set to duel for the World Superbike title.
Redding ended the Aragon test on top in November but wasn’t able to replicate the performance at Jerez, when Jonathan Rea was back in control. When wet testing commenced at Jerez in January, it was once again the Northern Irishman who was on top but with him not heading to Portimao, Scott Redding got extra track time and finished second – behind Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team).
Both of them are hard riders, pushing their opposition to the limits and willing to fight it out until the last corner. In 2019, Rea and Alvaro Bautista rarely went toe-to-toe for victory, with their battle lines crossing on occasion but not in a true final lap scrap. Both riders have it in them to slug it out on the final lap, with Jonathan Rea’s notable final lap battles from 2019 coming with Toprak Razgatlioglu at Magny-Cours and at Misano. For Scott Redding, he battled hard with Marc Marquez in Moto2™ at Silverstone, whilst also duelling with Valentino Rossi in MotoGP™ races too.
Commenting on their rivalry ahead of the 2020 season at the KRT team launch in Barcelona, Jonathan Rea said: “Well we have to wait and see, you always have to see how racing goes. I think there’s a lot of unknown quantities in the Championship this year, with a lot of people moving manufacturers. The Honda comes in, with Alvaro Bautista – the strongest competitor from last year – going there. You have to see how the chips fall in those first races and understand where the challenge is coming from.”
With nothing but mutual respect between the two of them, it looks set to be a healthy rivalry. Scott Redding spoke positively about the reigning five-time WorldSBK Champion “Jonny is by far one of the favourites with all of the experience he has had in the past years. He’s won a lot of titles, he’s a very good rider, a very strong rider and very talented. That is why my focus is there.
“I really like Jonny as a guy, we get along well but on the race track, it is each to their own. We go racing to try and beat each other and I think it is the same for him. I think we will have a lot of battles on track this year but the target for me and, probably, the other half of the grid is to try and beat him. When you are Champion, everyone wants to try and take the crown away from you. We are working to do that and to be as strong as possible for the first race of the year. I think the battle will commence at round one at Phillip Island!”
Whatever happens, Rea and Redding will both be duelling for the title, whether they clash on track or have a proxy war through their own separate stories. However, there’s more than just those two who are wanting WorldSBK success: more than ten riders could realistically be in the hunt for the Championship and they all want to make their own piece of history, regardless of the Jonathan Rea and Scott Redding rivalry.
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