As expected, Jonathan Rea has signed an extension of his agreement to remain with Ten Kate Honda in the World Superbike Championship for the 2010 and 2011 season.
The Northern Irishman had revealed to Crash.net
this week that it was 'almost 100 per cent confirmed' he would remain with the Dutch-based team for at least another season, with Ten Kate going on to confirm, ahead of the Imola round of the championship, that he will form one half of a trimmed two-rider line-up next year.
Rea, who has won two races in his maiden season at World Superbike level, is currently fourth in the standings, and will now use the experience he has acquired this year to mount a title challenge in 2010.
“As everyone knows, we started this season pretty slowly and I take my share of the blame for that. But I think we've shown that we have been able to turn the Honda CBR1000RR into a race-winning package in the face of some stiff competition. Now the challenge for me is to help to turn it into a championship-winning package.
“I'll admit that I've had some flattering distractions to think about recently but, with this revised agreement, I can now just concentrate on the job and the future. The changes to the contract have simply made some things clear that weren't clear before. We had a three-year plan, including the first year in Supersport, but not really a fixed deal. Now we've come to a good decision together and I'm looking forward to the rest of this season and the next two years with this strong and professional team.”
With Rea overshadowing more experienced team-mates Carlos Checa and Ryuichi Kiyonari to guarantee himself a seat for 2010, team manager Ronald ten Kate is confident the youngster can return the title back to the Honda stable before long.
“We already had an ongoing two-year agreement with Jonathan from last year, but it was just at a basic level. It needed an upgrade, so we now have a fine-tuned version after his impressive results this season.
“We are delighted to continue with the plan which brought Jonathan from British Superbike, through our own World Supersport squad and on to his World Superbike challenge. He has grown up a lot this season, both as a rider and as a person, and he is an absolute joy to work with. I believe we are just beginning to see the great potential that Jonathan has.”
The identity of Rea's team-mate, however, is the subject of fevered speculation, with Checa and Kiyonari now vying over a single seat. The Spaniard is believed to be returning to favour within the team following a recent run of good form, although rumours have also linked the likes of former rider James Toseland and Honda rival Leon Haslam to the available perch.