World Superbike star Jonathan Rea has spoken of his excitement at being invited to test for Repsol Honda, with a view to replacing injured MotoGP champion Casey Stoner.
Stoner has returned to Australia for surgery on his injured ankle and it seems doubtful that he will be fit for the forthcoming Misano and Aragon rounds.
As a result Rea, Honda top World Superbike rider since 2009 and part of this year's victorious Suzuka 8 Hours team, will make his 1000cc MotoGP debut during the official post-race test at Brno on Monday.
The 25-year-old Ulsterman will get a further test at Aragon on September 4-5 and - if Stoner cannot return - is scheduled to make his MotoGP race debut at Misano on September 14-16.
The following Aragon race weekend takes place on September 28-30. Neither event clashes with Rea's ongoing WSBK commitments.
“Firstly, I'm very sympathetic to Casey Stoner and best regards for his recovery,” said Rea. “But for me this is a great opportunity to ride one of the best bikes in the world. It's not every day you get that opportunity.
“I'm very happy that Honda has put some trust in me and I'm very excited for sure.
“I'm under no illusions how tough a machine it is and how tough a class it is. My target is to go [to the Brno test], ride around, enjoy myself, and try and give some feedback.”
Rea's only previous MotoGP experience was a private Honda test at Sepang in December 2010, but he believes the 800cc knowledge will be of benefit.
“It should help quite a lot actually, because the biggest difference for me between WSBK and GP is for sure tyres and carbon brakes. In terms of the engines and electronics what we have here is quite sophisticated,” said Rea.
“Sure the 1000cc bike will be much faster than the 800 I rode in Sepang, but I already have that familiarity with the bike and I kind of know what I'm letting myself in for.
“It's an animal. A proper fire-breathing racing machine. I'm really looking forward to the challenge.”
Whilst keen to move to MotoGP, Rea has consistently stated he would only do so on a competitive bike.
Full time Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa won Sunday's Czech Republic Grand Prix at Brno and is now just 13 points from title leader Jorge Lorenzo.