Johnny Rea at 360°! On the eve of the Misano weekend, the multiple WSB champion was our guest in the Live broadcast on the social channels of GPOne.com
15 minutes in the company of the Kawasaki rider, who talked about his career, expectations, as well as some of his background.
What is there to say about the Northern Irishman: a mixture of speed and charm, who also had a few ironic comments to say. Here is what he said to us.
Somehow you remind me of Mick Doohan, because you are both marking an era by dominating it. Is there a secret to always being so fast?
"No, there is no secret, just hard work and motivation. For example, when I win a championship I’ve been happy, but I always want to be better and every off-season I’ve worked harder for the year coming, because the riders and manufacturers are improving and it gets tougher"
Is it the Kawasaki that has something more than the other bikes or is it the team-rider combination?
"In racing, it’s the complete package, the bike, suspension, electronics, engine, but also the team, because in our sport humans make a huge difference. From this point of view they have to be clever, but also good people, there must be a nice atmosphere. Also my wife and my kids, at home, create a nice environment for me to work. You cannot say that it is me or the bike, in the end everything together makes a small percentage and all together they create this package which, I'm sure, is the best one ”.
Rea: "The Kawasaki is not the best in all areas, the atmosphere in the garage is incredible"
Pere Riba also told us that this was the secret…
"I think it is everything together. The Kawasaki has its strongest point in the braking area, the stability of the chassis and very strong electronics, but it is not the best in every area. However, when you put everything together, it's the best package. Also, from the human side in the box, it’s unbelievable, I can't explain how the team works, in my opinion it's at the level of the best MotoGP teams. "
Rea: "The Bautista-Ducati combination was maybe the toughest to beat"
Of all the riders you've beaten in your career, which one was the toughest?
“I've never really thought about it before, good question! Everyone has been difficult to beat but maybe the toughest was the combination of Bautista and Ducati in 2019. It was very difficult to beat him, I didn't understand how or if I could beat him, but then suddenly in Misano, Alvaro made a completely unnecessary crash and that rider, who used to be invincible, was not so invincible anymore”.
Now Bautista is at Honda, why are they struggling?
"It's difficult to know, it’s a new team, an HRC supported team, I was in a private team. I can't comment on what's going on, but they have the full support of Honda, a lot of resources, after last year I was expecting a big step forward from them but they are still getting there. Kawasaki, Yamaha and Ducati are a step ahead. However, it's nice to see Honda, as well as BMW, investing in SBK”.
Rea: "In 2019 it was important to always be on the podium with Bautista"
About 2019, the secret was your never give up mentality?
"For me it was important to feel that when he was on the top of the podium I was always there. It was also difficult for 2nd place, in fact van der Mark was very strong during the Assen weekend. I always believed I could win, but I didn’t know how because Alvaro seemed invincible at the start, but then he fell apart a little bit and we were able to dominate that last part of the season. Maybe the most incredible weekends I had was in Qatar, when I did the treble, to finish the year like that was amazing. "
Rea: "My experience in MotoGP? Crazy, but I enjoyed it"
In 2012 you rode Casey Stoner’s bike for a couple of GPs in MotoGP, what do you remember about those two races?
“It was a lot of stress, because I was doing one Sunday in SBK and the next in MotoGP, it was crazy period but I really enjoyed it. I remember I was in Moscow for SBK when I got the call and I flew to Brno for an afternoon test and I was 3 seconds off. Then I had went to Misano and Aragon, in the second race I started from the third row and finished 7th, ahead of Valentino, my hero! The crew chief was Giulio Nava, Bautista's current crew chief, and he told me the night before the race that Valentino’s idea was that I would fight for 7th, 8th place and for me it was incredible! Nice memories! I remember that my wife and a lot of fans had come, unfortunately there was no opportunity to race in MotoGP and then I found an amazing family in Kawasaki. "
Rea: "I would have liked to have known what my level in MotoGP was"
You have a one-year contract for ever with Kawasaki, now there are some free places now, maybe in Aprilia. Maybe you can think about it?
“A hard question but the answer is easy: in the past I haven't had zero chance to go to MotoGP, I don't know why they had a certain opinion of the SBK riders. I had some communication with some teams, but no proposals, I would love to be there to understand what my level was there. In MotoGP there are the best riders in the world, the manufacturers spend a lot of money, to do a good job you need to have a good opportunity. I’ve been on the other side of the fence, but now I am in Kawasaki I understand how important it is. You never say never, but at 34 I don't think I'll have an opportunity for MotoGP, that's how it is and I'm more than happy here in SBK. "
You have made history in SBK, how difficult is it to be Jonathan Rea?
“I don't think it's difficult, it's quite easy, I feel like a normal guy. My ambition was to be world champion, originally in motocross, and I became world champion in 2015. Everything that happened after that was a bonus, I didn't have that pressure, everything right now is fun. There were of course some difficult moments, but it’s a cool place to be ”.
Rea: "It's not true that I don't make mistakes: let's talk after the race and I'll show you at least twenty"
You remind me of Eddie Lawson, like him you make few mistakes and you get the maximum from every race. How difficult is it to reach but not go over the limit?
“I've never thought about it, I try to manage situations the best I can, and I make mistakes. I can watch a race with you tomorrow and show you at least twenty mistakes. I am my own worse critic, I always try to improve, but I think that now in SBK the feedback that comes to you from Pirelli is so good, you can understand where the limit is and then it is up to the rider to accept this or not. Normally in the pre-season tests I feel very strong and I make many mistakes, because I go over the limit, then when the racing starts I try to be cleaner, to not make mistakes ”.
Meanwhile, you already have a 38-point lead over Redding…
“You forget the 35 points to Toprak, who is one of the strongest guys in the championship, Scott too. There are always so many different battles and this weekend could be another one, maybe with Toprak, or my teammate, you never know. Last year we had 7 different winners but the lead is good and I will try to increase it. We are at the beginning, at this moment the points are not relevant, but it is not the time to think about the championship ".
Rea: "I'm not qualified to give suggestions to Rossi. As for my future, maybe you can give me a job"
You went to Tavullia by bicycle today, have you any suggestions for Rossi?
“I'm not qualified to give suggestions to Valentino, I can only tell him to enjoy every day. He is in a great place to ride a motorcycle, he just has to enjoy and see what happens. What he has done in our sport is incredible, for me he is the greatest of all time.”
Do you ever think about what you will do after you retire?
“Sometimes my brain is like a wasp in a jam-jar, one day I want to open a coffee shop, the next a riding school, then I want to go travelling, in the end I don't know. If I’m stuck I could send you my CV and you can give me a job (laughs) ”.