An exclusive interview with World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea, who is looking forward to the new season after switching to Kawasaki for 2015.

Crash.net:
How has your offseason been?

Jonathan Rea:
I rode quite a lot of motocross this offseason, more than I've ever done. I based myself in Spain during the test break and at the back end of December I was in Australia staying with my wife's parents and doing a lot of cycling. That's normally how I do most of my training but this year I mixed it up a bit with the motocross. It's what I love. I was based in Granollers, just down the road [from Barcelona].

Aside from that it's hard because the season finished so late. We were testing throughout November and then in December I tried to have some 'cheat weeks' where you sit on your ass and do nothing. I went to KHI and did some wind tunnel testing and had some meetings with the Japanese staff. Then it was straight back into athlete mode at the end of December. I don't feel like I've had a massive break but I'm excited for the season to start.

Crash.net:
Considering how strongly you've featured in both Jerez tests would you say this is the most confident you've felt going into a season for a long while?

Jonathan Rea:
I wouldn't say it's the most confident but I'd definitely say it's the most motivated. It's a completely different challenge. In previous years I knew what I was getting into. I never struggled to motivate myself but I struggled to find something new to really believe that we're going to challenge for the championship when the bike stayed the same. Now I know I'm joining one of the most successful teams. Whilst the regulations are changing quite a lot I still believe the support from the factory is what you need to be competitive.

Crash.net:
You have had strong team-mates in the past but with a former world champion and championship challenger alongside you does it motivate you further?

Jonathan Rea:
It's motivating but instead of me being excited about riding for a new team it's all been about my team-mate. It's a little bit frustrating because although Tom is one of the strongest guys there are a lot more people to beat next year than Tom. I'm prepared for a big fight with all the riders. I think it's going to be one of the most competitive years in recent times because of the regulation changes. We'll wait and see. Leon [Haslam] looks very strong. I mean Suzuki and Honda will be stronger than previous years and Ducati has got two strong riders and they haven't had to change their bike too much. I mean there are loads - in reality there won't be loads of guys winning races but there will be loads of guys fighting for the podium every weekend.

Crash.net:
The direct factory support will surely be a big help...

Jonathan Rea:
Like I said at the start going to Japan and you see their main programme for the Superbike. Then you have a test meeting and the bikes turn up [along] with countless boxes from Japan with new parts to test. That's motivating for me as I've never had that before. People in the past called the Ten Kate team a factory team but it didn't really do them justice at all. What they did with that bike was all [done] themselves and they didn't get the credit for it. For me it's a new situation to be in, it's really cool.

Crash.net:
How have you found working with your new crew chief Pere Riba?

Jonathan Rea:
Pere is really good because he understands the feeling of riding a bike. He's also very, very good at controlling the mental attitude of the team. Everyone's really motivated on my side of the garage. It's really exciting to be part of. I can honestly say that all of my mechanics are friends. I mean we're enjoying things already. Maybe we won't in the future if we're getting our asses kicked but right now the feeling is good.

Crash.net:
You spent many years with the Ten Kate team which was made up of northern Europeans. Now you're working in a Catalan outfit. Is the approach and mentality of the team different?

Jonathan Rea:
It's hard to say as most teams are very professional. I just feel that my mechanics are so passionate about motorbikes. They come home from a race meeting and they watch races from different categories, classes and championships. They talk about bikes twenty four seven so it's cool to have that passion. We have fun together. I knew quite early last year that this would be the direction that we take and from that point we all set up a WhatsApp group. Something simple like that but we're in regular contact. When I turned up at the first test in Jerez it didn't feel like a first day at school because it felt like I had bonded with everyone already.

Crash.net:
How does the ZX-10R feel compared to the CBR?

Jonathan Rea:
I can't really comment on that too technically but the easiest way to describe it would be the Kawasaki is a bit more stable. The electronic package is much more refined. In saying that the Honda also has its strong points.
Crash.net:
Was there a big jump in performance from the November tests to January?

Jonathan Rea:
We had a couple of updates for the bike. In November I was just trying to get adjusted and comfortable on the bike. In January we explored a lot more settings and changed a lot more things on the bike, not so much to go forward but to understand what my feeling was when we did this so if we get into trouble during the year we know what to do. We got two solid days of good weather [in Jerez] so we didn't think that we had to go out immediately because the track was good. Instead we worked slowly and went through things. I think we have a good package to start the season.

Crash.net:
Is your approach at Phillip Island to simply get some points on the board?

Jonathan Rea:
We're going to try and score highly in both races. I'd love to make the podium in both races. That'll be my target. I've never been on the podium in Phillip Island and it's kind of like my second home. My wife is from the local town. I have a lot of support there and it would mean a lot to me to stand on the box. Like you said the championship starts there but the championship can't be won at Phillip Island. You can sure throw away a lot of stupid points. We just want to come out of there with our heads above water and start the season for real.

Crash.net:
Finally Jonathan, have you had time to get used to the new green and black colours?

Jonathan Rea:
Yeah, I feel at home here. The green and black colours are still growing on me a little. We had the photo shoot last week and the reality set in. I'm super-happy and all the guys in my team are enjoying it. No matter the colour the unit we have around us will do a good job.

 

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