Yamaha: “We achieved our first target” by signing Jonathan Rea

Yamaha have confirmed Jonathan Rea was their first choice to replace Toprak Razgatlioglu for the 2024 WorldSBK season.
Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki WorldSBK Donington Park 2023
Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki WorldSBK Donington Park 2023

Prior to Razgatlioglu joining BMW, Yamaha maintained the stance that promoting young talent to the factory team was their main priority.

But when the Japanese manufacturer lost the 2021 world champion, it became clear that securing another elite rider was needed.

MotoGP stars Johann Zarco and Franco Morbidelli were rumoured as targets for Yamaha, but Paul Denning has admitted Rea was their top target.  

"First of all, we have to go back to the loss of Toprak which was a big disappointment, and to replace a rider of Toprak’s skill level, you have to start at the very top of the list," said the Pata Yamaha Team Principal. 

"Luckily, we didn’t have to work our way down very far and we achieved our first target. We’re delighted to do that; it’s been a real team effort in terms of Yamaha Motor Europe, and everyone involved in the process. 

"It’s a nice story in the end which is of course exciting for us and Yamaha but also for the Championship. 

"We’re lucky that it’s a six-time World Champion who seems to be highly motivated and as passionate about winning another Championship as he’s ever been."

Rea and Kawasaki won six Superbike titles on the bounce and for a long time were an unbeatable force.

But Ducati and Yamaha have overtaken the Japanese brand in the last few years which is why Rea felt the need to move and begin a new challenge, something Yamaha are also doing by signing the Northern Irishman.

"I can’t speak for Jonny but the reason for the move is purely to perform better," added Denning. "Hopefully on the technical side, we can give him something that is a step ahead. 

"His target is clearly to win another Championship and this time in blue. He brings a huge rebound from the loss of Toprak into something that we couldn’t even imagine would be this exciting and motivating for the team. 

"Just by him agreeing to join us, it gives everyone the development and operational side a fresh motivation. I don’t see any difficulties in how he can fit in."

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