While he may have felt a little 'overwhelmed' ahead of his full-time debut in the World Superbike Championship this time twelve months ago, Jonathan Rea heads into the 2010 season knowing exactly what he needs to do to live up to his title favourite status.
With two wins and a fifth place finish in the overall standings, Rea enjoyed an excellent maiden year in the category with Ten Kate Honda, his reputation as a 'future star' furthered by the way he comfortably outperformed more experienced team-mates Carlos Checa and Ryuichi Kiyonari.
It means Rea embarks on his sophomore season in the premier Superbike series with an elevated status, the Northern Irishman being touted as a favourite to beat a number of respected rivals to lift the 2010 title.
Despite the high expectation, Rea feels good about his chances, stating that he puts enough demands on himself to succeed so as not to feel pressure from elsewhere.
“It is really nice that people are saying I am being tipped for the title,” Rea told Crash.net
. “It doesn't give me any more pressure because I heap plenty of pressure on myself.
“It'd be nice to ride around on a motorbike and not matter about the result, but the reality is I am employed to try and win the championship. I am under no illusions how hard it will be though - I just hope I can keep it together for all 13 rounds.”
At 23-years-old, Rea points out that he is younger than a lot of his closest rivals, but while he admits to being somewhat 'star struck' ahead of the first round last year, he says he feels better prepared this time around.
“At the beginning of last year, I was preparing to start racing against some of my all-time idols, so I was excited and a bit overwhelmed about whom I was racing against. This year, I understand the series and I know what it takes to win races. I am still very excited, but also I want to go out and win races straight away.
“Last year, I was a bit nervous, but this year I believe in my ability. We have all the elements in the right place now. I always train pretty hard, but during the off-season I took it even more seriously and I feel like I'm in good shape. I have a happy head space – when I wake up in the morning, I am happy with where I am in my career.”