He’s the favorite for this season. Who are we talking about? Johnny Rea, of course. In Australia, he’ll be fighting for his fifth world title. At just a few miles away from the Phillip Island track, the Cannibal unveiled his ZX-10RR, challenging the competition. What the rider from Northern Ireland has accomplished in the past few years has certainly not gone unnoticed, and many have already ventured a comparison with Marc Marquez.
“Every rider has his own qualities when he gets on a bike,” said the four-time world champion. “Marc certainly has a great talent. In MotoGP, he's showing his potential, and he’s younger than I. I think we both race with the same winning mentality.”
A few weeks ago, Marquez said that, before the start of the season, he pretends that he’s not the current champion. Is this your thought, too?
“Absolutely. I think the same exact thing. In this sport, you have to enjoy the victories. But, at the same time, you have to forget them quickly to be able to improve.”
You won all the races last year, from Laguna Seca to Losail. What more can you do?
“Winning is like a drug that is addictive. Then you end up not settling for less. But maybe that's the beauty of our sport, since it allows you to grow and overcome obstacles faster. For me, success is on the track. That is, on the Kawasaki, but also in everyday life with your family and the whole team by your side.”
You mentioned the team several times during the last season.
“Of course. Nobody sees how hard those guys work behind the scenes. Everyone thinks it’s only thanks to me. Instead, without my work group, it would be impossible to achieve certain results.”
During the winter, you sent a clear message to the competition. Do you think that Kawasaki is a cut above the other opponents?
“Personally, I’m happy with the work carried out, but I don’t know what kind of paths the other teams have taken. At the end of last season, I had made some very specific requests to the team, and I must say that I found a great growth in the bike. I’m referring to the chassis, but also the engine, since we managed to take another step forward.”
During pre-season, there was a lot of curiosity about the performance of the Panigale V4. Were you surprised?
“Do you want to know the truth? I didn’t look at the times the others had, since I remained focused only on mine. Certainly, the Ducati will give us some trouble, as will the Yamaha that, with Alex Lowes, had a great pace.”