After Kawasaki announced Jonathan Rea for years to come, WorldSBK takes a look at their best moments together
Following the announcement that Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) will remain with KRT on a multiple year deal, it is time to rekindle the best Rea and Kawasaki moments from the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. With 74 wins achieved by Rea riding for KRT and five consecutive titles, there are plenty of memories that both Rea and KRT will look back on fondly; and is a period that has helped make Rea the most successful WorldSBK rider of all time.
Claiming your first win for any team is a special moment but to do it on your debut is extra special. The Rea-KRT relationship got off to a perfect start in 2015 when Rea claimed his first victory for Kawasaki. Rea held off Aprilia’s Leon Haslam by just 0.039s, setting the tone for how his KRT career would go. It was the start of a dominant year for the Ulsterman as he wrapped up a first title with five races to spare, claiming 14 wins and 23 podiums on his way to the title.
As Rea looked to make it three titles in a row in 2017, Kawasaki celebrated a milestone when they claimed their 100th victory in WorldSBK. Rea’s victory at Donington Park in Race 2 from 2017 gave Kawasaki the sensational milestone; Rea held off an onslaught from teammate and Race 1 winner Tom Sykes to hit the milestone, achieving his first win at Donington Park onboard a Kawasaki in the process. Rea held on despite Sykes’ late race pace to win by just 1.6s.
Rea etched his name into the record books in 2018 when he equalled Carl Fogarty’s record of 59 WorldSBK wins, claiming victory in Race 2 from Imola in 2018. It was far from straight forward for Rea having started ninth, following on from victory in Race 1. After gaining three places on the opening lap, Rea battled his way through the field before passing long-time race leader Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) with seven to go. It was another step on Rea’s remarkable road to creating WorldSBK history.
History was on the horizon as Jonny aimed to make it five-in-a-row in 2019 after fighting back against Alvaro Bautista and Ducati, with the rookie claiming 11 wins in a row to take an early Championship lead. The Spaniard held a 61-point lead in the Championship at its peak, but Rea managed to turn the Championship on its head in Race 1 at Donington Park. From that point, Rea did not look back and went on to claim his fifth consecutive title at Magny-Cours; the first rider in WorldSBK to manage win five titles in a row, let alone making them consecutive!
Competition is fierce in WorldSBK for teams, manufacturers and riders. Rea is no exception to having rivals but one rivalry that began in 2015 was with Ducati’s Chaz Davies. At Sepang, Rea closed in on Davies on the final lap before passing him on the run to the final corner. Davies fought back, lunging to the inside to get the better line through the turn before the pair made contact; both stayed on their bikes, but Davies would go on to take victory. It meant that Rea’s coronation as Champion for 2015 would be delayed until the next round at Jerez.
Will Rea be able to make it six consecutive titles with Kawasaki? You can watch the 2020 season when racing resumes with the WorldSBK VideoPass!