Jonathan Rea, one of the most successful motorcycle racers in history, has just announced that he will be making a switch from Kawasaki to Yamaha for the 2024 World Superbike Championship. From 2015 to the present day, Jonathan Rea has become pretty much synonymous with Kawasaki, with the two parties putting forth some of the best racing on two wheels.
Jonathan Rea is touted as the most successful motorcycle racer in history, with six consecutive World Championship titles to his name from 2015 all the way to 2020, all this aboard the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR race bike. “Winning six consecutive WorldSBK Championships will always be the most obvious highlight of my time with Kawasaki; but it will also be the amazing memories, the life lessons and the laughs that I will take with me into the future. And, for sure, it’s our mission to complete the 2023 season as strongly and with as much commitment as we have always shown," Rea said in an article published by Motorcycle News.
Starting the 2024 season, Jonathan Rea will be swinging a leg over the Yamaha YZF-R1 race bike alongside Italian motorcycle racer Andrea Locatelli. The Northern Irishman will effectively be taking the place of Turkish racer Toprak Razgatlioglu, who is also moving on to a different manufacturer, BMW, for the 2024 season. It's quite an interesting turn of events, really, as Razgatlioglu was the man responsible for ending Rea's winning streak in 2021. That being said, the Turkish rider continues to be ahead of Rea in the current season, sitting in second place behind Ducati's Alvaro Bautista.
As of this writing, Jonathan Rea has been having a rather lackluster 2023 season, especially when put in contrast to his previous seasons. Since the start of the season, Rea has won just one race, but managed to finish on the podium on 10 occasions out of 24. Nevertheless, he has one of the most impressive track records in the sport, with 261 race starts, 104 race wins, 214 podiums, 37 pole positions, 79 front-row starts, and 92 fastest lap records. Yamaha marks Jonathan Rea's third manufacturer in WSBK, as he started out with Honda in the 2008 season, where he won 15 races.
Eric de Seynes, the President and CEO of Yamaha Motor Europe, stated in a press release, "We are very happy to welcome Jonathan to the Yamaha family and we are very much motivated to collaborate with him for the future. We have the same motivation to win, and the same passion for WorldSBK. Like him we have been world champions in recent years and we want to be back on the top of the box once again. Jonathan’s drive, determination and hunger for success have been constants throughout his career and these attibutes will contribute to our future common success."