SBK, Rea: “I might not even win a race this year”

EXCLUSIVE - “it's something I've considered, but I can't give up. The Panigale V4? The situation is embarrassing and dangerous at the same time”


It's definitely not the season he expected, also because he's found himself dealing with a certain Alvaro Bautista and a Panigale V4 that, until now, have put not one foot wrong. Johnny Rea has no intention of giving up now, even if the task seems to be at very limits of what's possible. The Cannibal resets his goals as of Imola, a round at which he will present the Italian edition of his autobiography.

Johnny has removed his leathers for the occasion, wearing his writer's garb instead, though he is quick to clarify one thing.

“I'm a rider and could never call myself a writer or journalist. Personally, I'm really excited about what I've done. It's my story, how I've achieved my goals, the wins, coming from a small town in Northern Ireland. I wanted to put my all into this autobiography, speaking honestly and simply to people, telling them who Rea is. They told me it wasn't very easy to translate into Italian but I hope my message comes across”.

Why should a fan buy your book?

“Because people will understand who I am and the path I've followed. From outside, it might look like it's all been easy for me, the wins, the money, the popularity. But it's not like that. I'm not a star and don't want to be one. I'm a rider who has overcome many difficulties in life, like in 2004 when they told me I couldn't race any more. I hope this bike can help many young people and be appreciated by the fans of course”.

Johnny, back to the track. The Superbikes are at Imola, what should we expect.

 “The dynamics of this championship are quite clear and all I can do is react. I feel confident, as Imola is a track I like and suits my characteristics and those of the Kawasaki”.

Bautista and the Panigale seem unbeatable.

Right now, there's no competition, but I can't give up, I just have to react. I think about a year ago, when I didn't have the feeling I wanted with the bike, then after the Brno test the team and I were really able to fight back”.

If I said you might not win even one race this year...?

“i'm very sorry to say, but I have considered that, I fully admit that. It's not hard to believe, at the end of the day we're all human but inside I want to try and succeed, even if there's the slightest chance”.

Is this Bautista a nightmare?

No, Alvaro is not a nightmare. In the evening, when I go to bed, I'm calm and relaxed. After many year and a lot of success, this is perhaps the biggest challenge of my Kawasaki adventure. We know that and we want to fight”.

At Aragon Melandri said they should take 2000 revs off Ducati.   

“I don't want to get into that, as many riders, staff and journalists have already expressed a variety of opinions on the subject. The situation is clear and embarrassing. I think about Chaz for example, it's not possible that there is a 15 second difference between him and Alvaro. I'm not a technician, so I can't say what needs to be done”.

Some maintain that the Panigale V4 goes against the spirit of SBK.

“it's totally different to a SBK and the speed of Bautista's Ducati in Thailand was embarrassing, six tenths fastest down the straight”.

At this point, all you can do is follow the path Ducati's taking. Or go with a MotoGP version of a road bike.

“It's a dangerous situation, Dorna need to think carefully about opening the door to production bikes worth more than 40,000 euros. Personally, I don't think it's the way to go. I don't know what Kawasaki plans to do for 2020, as I'm not a technician, but we definitely want to be competitive”.

Lastly, would you like to test the V4?

“I wouldn't swap the Kawasaki for any other bike”



Translated by Heather Watson

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