Will Jonathan Rea regret leaving Kawasaki after 's**t' weekend?

Jonathan Rea suffered one of the worst WorldSBK rounds of his career in Phillip Island, while his former team won both Sunday races.

Jonathan Rea, Superpole Race, Australian WorldSBK, 25 February
Jonathan Rea, Superpole Race, Australian WorldSBK, 25 February

The Yamaha rider struggled during the pre-season test at Phillip Island as he crashed his R1, but the opening WorldSBK round of 2024 went even worse for Jonathan Rea.

Rea went scoreless for the first time since 2011 where he retired from both races.

Rea’s lead up to the season was mixed, however, signs were there at Jerez in particular and Portimao that a very good season was on the cards.

Of course that could still happen because Rea is the greatest Superbike rider of all-time and Yamaha has a bike capable of winning.

But the struggles at Phillip island were a big concern, and Rea did not hold back.

Speaking after Saturday’s P17 result, Rea said: “We’ve tried everything. At Yamaha, we’re an open catalogue. You can pick what you want but most riders are the same.

“Throughout testing, I’ve preferred some different chassis parts than ‘Loka’ but this weekend, we’ve started with what the team feel are the good for tyre consumption, grip and all the Phillip Island characters.

“This morning, we went back to some parts that I liked more in testing but we’re still with the same issues. I’m as confused as everyone in the box; we’re lost and it’s frustrating.

“Throughout the data, you can see a similar issue with the other bikes. When you can see it with the naked eye, it’s tough.

“If I showed you what I see, I can’t fathom how I did a 1’29 in Superpole. I’m just frustrated.

“I don’t want to say too much more; I don’t know why I am here because you don’t normally speak to guys who are P17 and I’ve got nothing great to say, so I don’t think I can say too much.

“I need to believe in myself because I know better days are coming but it’s hard to see that right now.”

Rea would likely have scored point had he not encountered issues in the pit stop sequence, however, tenth in the Superpole Race and a big crash in Race 2 left the Northern Irishman without a single point.

Rea left Kawasaki to embark on a new challenge, but the Japanese brand reigned supreme at Phillip Island as Alex Lowes did the double on Sunday.

But while Lowes was very impressive the ZX10-RR seemed to have made big strides forward, especially with its top speed as Lowes was able to hang onto the Ducati and BMW riders around him.

The turning was also very strong for Lowes as he often made times through turns two and three when battling Alvaro Bautista.

Andrea Locatelli showed that Yamaha can fight for wins, but Rea could soon find himself thinking what might have been if Kawasaki continues to win and he struggles aboard the R1.

Continuing to speak about the feeling he’s been missing since Jerez, Rea said: “I’m quite numb to what we’re going through right now, we just need to stay focussed, try to give myself some confidence but they need to change something for me to do my thing. 

“I’m just not feeling it right now. At Jerez, the bike worked fantastic; in race rhythm with all riders, I could compete for a podium.

“At Portimao, not so much and we were floating around the top five. Here, we’re in the middle of the shit.”

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