They went to Jerez!
In the middle of March 2020, a strange rumor about reigning five-time WSBK champ Jonathan Rea possibly doing a wildcard stint in MotoGP aboard his Kawasaki Racing Team Ninja ZX-10RR was floating around. That led Australian professional superbike racer Lachlan Epis to throw together this video comparing laps of Jerez from both Marc Márquez and Jonathan Rea, with each champion on board his respective machine.
The Jonathan Rea wildcard situation seems unlikely to happen for several reasons, but it’s still interesting to see the similarities and differences between these two racers and their bikes. It also raises the question of how well they’d perform if they swapped bikes, or were both racing the same bike against one another. Maybe that’s an idea for another future cross-series racer vehicle swap?
In any case, for anyone who isn’t overly familiar with the differences between MotoGP and WSBK machines, Jonathan Rea broke it down very clearly when explaining why he wasn’t interested in wildcarding.
“I would compete against prototype bikes with prototype tires on a street motorcycle that was developed for Pirelli tires,” Rea told Speedweek.
“It would be like driving a touring car against a Formula 1 [car]. We are a series based on series bikes. Superbike World Cup and MotoGP are different worlds. It's like comparing apples to pears.”
The two might look relatively closely matched in this video, but that variance would also change based on track. Even within the same series, most racing fans know that individual track characteristics might favor one team over another. Those differences would be even more pronounced when pitting even a top WSBK machine like Rea’s KRT against the might of MotoGP prototypes.
It’s also worth noting that WSBK allows for the use of special qualifying tires, which aren’t the same as tires used during actual races. Managing a similarly quick time for one lap is much more attainable than it would be for an entire race distance.
TL;DR: It’s entertaining to think about, but probably unlikely to happen for several reasons. Sorry.