Jonathan Rea: “No regrets joining Yamaha - I can see the light, but…”

'I came for a different challenge in my career, and I’ve certainly found that'

Jonathan Rea
Jonathan Rea

Six-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea insists he has ‘no regrets’ about leaving Kawasaki for Yamaha, despite a torrid start to his R1 career.

The 37-year-old arrives for his ‘home’ Donington Park round with a best finish of fifth place and having scored points in only five of the 12 races this season.

That has left the record 119-time race winner only 14th in the standings, as the fourth-best Yamaha rider.

Meanwhile, former team-mate Alex Lowes has taken Kawasaki to fourth in the world championship, with two victories.

“Of course, I don’t regret any decision coming to Yamaha,” Rea told

“I think I came for a different challenge in my career, and I’ve certainly found that.

“We say in English, ‘you’re always looking for the light at the end of the tunnel’ in difficult moments. I can see the light, but I’m nowhere near there yet.

“I know we’re going to find that way. As a racer, you want it tomorrow. Maturity has told me let’s ride this way and it’s going to come.”

Big accidents have hampered Rea’s adaptation to the blue machine, most notably in the opening round at Phillip Island.

“Unfortunately, Phillip Island started the year horribly with a huge crash in the test and finished the weekend with another huge crash.

“That sucked a lot of energy. I was quite injured. I didn’t speak too much but it was my leg and shoulder. I just took some time to recover from that physically and mentally.

“I wouldn’t say I was broken, but I was really frustrated. All the positive things we’d worked towards in the winter had been destroyed in one weekend.”

The Ulsterman insists the situation has been improving, and a wet pole position at Assen was a welcome boost, but progress is slower than he’d like.

“From the first race of the year, we’ve been making progress. It would’ve been horrible if I started out with a race win and the season went the opposite way!

“The trend of the Championship is a positive one. We’re making slower progress than we want. Assen was a good weekend for me. It was the first time I rode the R1 in the wet.

“Pole position was a nice reward for me and all the team, to have a little lift in the project; it’s been tough, but I came here to try to win races and compete for podiums.”

Looking ahead, Rea acknowledges he is still ‘quite far’ from claiming his 120th WorldSBK win, saying he ‘loves’ the bike but lacks some trust in it.

“My dream is to win a race. I feel quite far from that right now, but step by step we’re getting closer.

“I need to understand my bike riding on the limit. I love the bike, right from the first moment I rode it, I loved everything.

“At race speed, there’s a few areas of my confidence and trust in electronics, some things that aren’t falling into place right now.

“The Championship’s so strong right now that when everything isn’t completely lined up to ride on that level, I have no feeling; no real confidence to do that.

“I know what I need to do, but it’s just working with my crew to do that. I have to adjust my style, but I think, now, I need to keep my way and try to make this bike fit my style well.

“When the rider doesn’t 100% feel or have confidence, it’s really hard to make the difference.

“Once I’ve managed that, I’m sure I’ll be able to be there, competing with, at the very least, the other Yamaha riders.

“I think we have a really good base to fight with the top guys when everything’s together. The good thing is I feel there’s a lot of room to improve.

“I’m looking forward to unharnessing all the potential.”

Opening practice at Donington Park takes place on Friday morning.

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