WorldSBK’s most successful rider will continue with KRT for another two seasons as they look to write more history together
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) will remain with Kawasaki for 2023 and 2024, with a contract extension negotiated that will see him remain in green for two more seasons. With five race wins to his name in 2022 and having relinquished his crown in 2021 to Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK), Rea is keen to take the title back in 2022 and thus have a return to the #1 on the front of his ZX-10RR for the 2023 season. He’ll be joined by Alex Lowes once again, in 2023 at least, with the Englishman having been announced last year.
Joining the WorldSBK field as a wildcard in 2008 at Portimao for Ten Kate Honda after winning three WorldSSP races with them in the same year, Rea took his first victory at Misano in 2009. He’d take another 14 wins for Honda before moving to Kawasaki, where he became an instant winner in his first race. However, the stats since then are truly mesmerising: six WorldSBK titles, 102 wins, 186 podiums, 33 poles, 88 fastest laps and an unimaginable 3950 points scored, make him the most successful rider not just for a single manufacturer but also in WorldSBK history, becoming the first rider to achieve five titles in 2019 whilst also equalling the all-time win tally in one season with 17 – something he previously achieved in 2018.
2020 saw him fight hard for the latest title to-date, whilst 2021, despite not taking the ultimate crown, saw him hit further iconic milestones, such as his 100th WorldSBK win at Aragon in Race 1, as well as achieving a 200th podium in green at Most. The new contract renewal will see Rea as a benchmark until at least the end of 2024, as one of motorcycle racing’s most iconic partnerships looks set to continue writing history.
Speaking about his contract extension and talking about his green future, Rea was excited to remain part of his close-knit family: “I am really happy and excited to renew my contract with Kawasaki, to roll on for two more years. It has been an incredible partnership; we have enjoyed so much success together that it is almost a natural progression. There was not much negotiation needed to continue together from both sides. It was more a case of how much more motivation I had to keep racing at the highest level in the WorldSBK Championship.
“It has been an incredible few seasons; more competitive than ever. I have realised how motivated I am to continue and to continue fighting to win. Kawasaki gave me the opportunity back in 2015 to realise a childhood dream when I won the WorldSBK championship in the first year together. As a partnership we are so solid, and I am looking forward to continue making memories and representing an incredible manufacturer and brand.”
Rea’s 2022 Championship season also sees him in the title fight, with five race wins and just 17 points away from Championship leader, Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). Rea has had to battle with Bautista and arch-rival Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) in final lap showdowns. For Bautista, the first of their rivalry came in the first race of the 2022 season at Aragon in Race 1, with Rea beating him on the final lap. He then beat Razgatlioglu in a sensational final lap of the Tissot Superpole Race at Estoril.
Continuing about his renewal, Rea commented: “My team is my racing family. I love everyone inside the team like my own family and relationships like that count for a lot in racing. Huge credit goes to every single person in the staff, from Provec Racing, all the engineers in Japan, and everyone in the Kawasaki family. I am excited to see what we can do over the next two seasons.”
Team manager Guim Roda, who has been instrumental in Kawasaki’s WorldSBK success since 2012, shared the joy at seeing WorldSBK’s most successful rider remain: “Since we signed Jonny for the 2015 season, and until now, we have written a nice part of WorldSBK’s history. We are so proud to be part of this Rea success story, which also means, Kawasaki’s success story. It’s going on eight seasons together now, and Jonny has been performing at the maximum, always. Nowadays, and at the age of 35, he is in his best shape, and we know there's still a lot of dancing left to be done.
“We have been working hard to define, with KMC, which kind of project we could create for Jonny to allow him to keep pushing at 110%. I think we gave him the motivation he needed to go for it for two more years. We can never rest on our laurels of our successful past, so we will have a hard job to cover his expectations. We are ready for that. We guarantee it will be a real show for at least two more years.”
Steve Guttridge, Kawasaki Europe Race Planning Manager, also gave his thoughts on retaining WorldSBK’s most successful rider: “Jonathan has been fundamental in creating an incredible relationship and a firm bond between the wider Kawasaki brand and the Ninja ZX-10RR in particular. Our six-time World Champion is undeniably part of the Kawasaki family and a history maker in his own right. Now, he has a chance to create another record-breaking chapter and we are eager to play a part in the next important phase of his racing journey.”
Watch the remainder of the 2022 season as well as some of Rea’s most incredible Kawasaki wins with the WorldSBK VideoPass!