Rea: Insecurities ‘were gone after first run’ on the Yamaha

Six-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea says swapping Kawasaki for Yamaha ‘was always going to be a big change’, but that his insecurities have already gone.
Jonathan Rea, Yamaha WorldSBK Jerez 2023
Jonathan Rea, Yamaha WorldSBK Jerez 2023

Rea spent nine seasons with Kawasaki and won six titles in that time, all of which came in succession.

But in recent years Yamaha and Ducati in particular, have appeared stronger, as highlighted by the results of Toprak Razgatlioglu and Alvaro Bautista. 

Rea, who has since replaced Razgatlioglu after the Turkish rider’s move to BMW, admitted it was hard leaving Kawasaki but that he’s very happy with his first impressions at Yamaha.

Speaking to the Belfast telegraph, Rea said: “After nine years with my previous team it was always going to be a big change going somewhere new, but I’m really fortunate that the team made me feel so welcome,” Rea said.

“Even so, I had my own insecurities like everybody else — I worried about the attention because there were a lot of people around on my first exit from the box, and I was thinking ‘please don’t stall this bike’.’

“You don’t know what the clutch is going to be like or the gearbox, but anyway I got away well and while I had left a really, really good team and a good bike, I’ve come to an incredible team and another incredible bike.

“So all those insecurities and small doubts — little question marks in my head — were gone after that first run.

“I think it’s going to be a really nice story that we will create together and hopefully we can do well.”

Considered a very rider-friendly bike, the Yamaha has typically allowed different riding styles to have success whether that’s WorldSBK or MotoGP.

And Rea was quick to point out that the R1 ‘talks’ to you when pushing it to the limit.

Rea added: “It’s still very new, fresh and motivating — especially when riding the bike. I’m constantly learning the R1 and the bike is really user-friendly and confidence inspiring,”

“In the first exit I did with the bike it was a private test and the transponder beacons weren’t working, so I had no lap time reference and I felt like I was not on the rhythm, not on the pace.

“But when I came in the guys said I’d done a competitive time, so it feels like the bike naturally gives you confidence, it ‘talks’ to you, and I really like the engine character.”

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