REA EXCLUSIVE PART 2: "Forget about what happened two or three seasons ago, it’s irrelevant now"
In the second part of our one-on-one sit down with six-time World Champion Jonathan Rea, the attention turns to winning – can it happen, will it happen and how can it happen again?
As the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is in a break between rounds, we caught up with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) for the full lowdown catch-up on what has been his worst start to a WorldSBK season since joining Kawasaki. After Part 1’s discussion about the tricky start, Kawasaki’s steps and how other manufacturers have their structure in WorldSBK, this time, it’s all about the winning feeling. Enjoy Part 1 of the interview here.
HIGH HOPES, REALISTIC TARGETS: “I’d love to win a race again, but…”
With Assen up next, a circuit where Rea is the most successful rider of all-time at, is this the place the magic can be sprinkled, and if not, is there a cause for concern? “I’m not concerned; I don’t want everyone looking at me now thinking that we can turn it round and make it click, as this is our reality,” said Rea, defiantly. “You see the way I’m riding on track and see the way Alex is riding, we are where we are. There’s no magic fix and maybe, at Assen, we know that in Europe things can be slightly better so if we can show our full potential at Assen, then yes, I want to fight for podiums and I’d love to win a race again, but you can’t take it for granted.”
TIMES HAVE CHANGED: “It’s not the open package that we had three or four seasons ago”
Talking about the difficulty to win a race in WorldSBK at the moment and what it takes for it to happen, Rea spoke about everything needing to fall into place: “It is so tough to win a race now in WorldSBK, and Ducati have done an incredibly job and Toprak’s riding incredibly well, so to fight with these guys, we need to be on our A-game and do everything right with no mistakes. The bike needs to be in the perfect window, and I need to be at 100%. I’ve been in this position before and when the stars align, you can make it work but it’s not the open package that we had three or four seasons ago. We’re looking now to make this next step and try and make things come a bit more naturally.”
NO PANIC: “You can’t magically think, ‘f**k, what if I don’t win again?’, we really are a team fighting for the podium right now”
Having said at the start of the season that defending a title is hard due to the fear of losing, the question was put to Rea of a similar kind: is he now fearing not winning again? “I’ve had that feeling before, in 2021,” replied Rea, eager to comment on recent years. “Fighting with Scott and Toprak and then last year, it was evident we were put in our place as we lost the Championship by 99 points; I stopped checking as it wasn’t our reality. You can’t magically think, ‘f**k what if I don’t win again?’, we really are a team that’s fighting to be on the podium right now. That’s the target, to be better than last week and forget about what happened two or three seasons ago, it’s irrelevant now.”
NOT GIVING IN: “Expect us to be giving it 100%, hopefully it’s enough to fight for some race wins”
Finally, the conversation concluded with a look ahead to what we can anticipate for 2023’s ten remaining rounds: “We’re going to fight as hard as we can and I want to win some races, that’s my target. We’ll do our best and I’ll try and apply myself more technically inside the box and learn more about that side of things. In the past, I didn’t spend much time with the engineers but now, I go quite deep with my comments and then hopefully we can move that forward. That’s also a goal, to technically make the bike and package better, instead of getting on the thing and ringing its neck, so I can understand how to go better. Expect us to be giving it 100% and hopefully it’s enough to fight for some race wins.”
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