Jonathan Rea: “It is going to be an emotional weekend”

Jonathan Rea is set to end his glittering WorldSBK chapter with Kawasaki at this weekend’s 2023 season-finale at Jerez, ahead of switching to Yamaha.
Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki WorldSBK Portimao 2023
Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki WorldSBK Portimao 2023

A six-time WorldSBK champion with Kawasaki, and as a combination the most successful partnership ever in the series, Rea has just three races remaining.

Rea, who will be replaced by Axel Bassani next season, clinched his first world title at Jerez in 2015. 

Speaking ahead of what will be an emotional round for the six-time champion, Rea said: “It is a strange feeling going to Jerez knowing that it is my last round with KRT and I am sure it is going to be an emotional weekend together with the staff. 

“On track we will try to do the best job we can. It is a track that perhaps has been a difficult one for us but we have also shared some great times there, winning races. It was also the scene of winning my first World Championship for Kawasaki. 

“We do a lot of laps there in the winter tests so we have a good idea of set-up. Of course, the Ninja ZX-10RR has evolved throughout the year and we have made steps in a positive direction. 

“I really want to finish the year strongly for my team. We are still fighting for third place in the championship. The big target of the weekend is to enjoy riding the bike and do the best job we can but also to ensure we deliver that top three in the World Championship. 

“I want to really try to enjoy the weekend with my team. All the build up to the weekend, all the weekend, and of course post-race, reflecting on what an amazing partnership it has been - I am sure it is going to be an emotional one. 

“I hope I can give a good account of myself and do the team proud.”

On the other side of the garage, Alex Lowes believes this weekend’s Spanish round can serve as a chance to test for next season.

The Brit is level on points with Xavi Vierge in the championship, which in large part is due to missing five out of the last seven races.

Alex Lowes, Portuguese WorldSBK, 29 September
Alex Lowes, Portuguese WorldSBK, 29 September

“I feel like this may be more of a first ‘race’ of winter testing and then next season for me, rather than the last race of the year,” added Lowes. 

“Since the summer break I have basically been injured for a couple of months. I have had a nice few weekends off, working hard and training hard. I am looking forward to finishing the year strongly in Jerez. 

“It is a track that everybody knows well, and that the Kawasaki has gone well at in the past. The sad part of the weekend is that it will be Jonathan’s last ride with Kawasaki. 

“It has been a pleasure to share the garage with him for the four years I have been at Kawasaki. We all know how good a rider he is, and the stats speak for themselves. He has been the best of certainly my generation in WorldSBK, and one of the best ever. 

“But what has been almost better than that is off the bike and how much of a good bloke he is. I knew him a little bit before he was a team-mate but since spending a lot of time with him, in the garage, at events, away from the track, I would say that we have become friends. 

“He has certainly made the four years more enjoyable for me. A great rider, an even better bloke and honestly I will miss not being on the other side of the garage to him. 

“All the best to him in his last round with Kawasaki and well done to them for all they achieved together. 

“Hopefully we can share the podium this weekend and finish our KRT relationship as team-mates in style. I am feeling good, looking forward to the race and I cannot wait to get down there, to be honest.”

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