Jonathan Rea received a hero’s welcome when he flew into Belfast last night as crowds packed the airport to help the history-making Ballyclare native celebrate his third WorldSBK crown on the bounce.
Rea wrapped up the title with his 50th win on Saturday but fell victim to a crashing Eugene Laverty on lap two of yesterday’s second race. Now, the Isle of Man resident is turning his attention to developing the 2018 Kawasaki ZX-10RR as new regulations are on the verge of being unveiled.
“I will take things race by race and turn out focus towards 2018. As soon as the regulations are released, we can better understand what is going on with that,” Rea told bikesportnews.com.
“Nobody really knows what they are going to do. Whatever it is, we will have to react to it pretty quickly. The rumour is they want to do something with the rpm limit, which will affect the top speed of the bikes a little bit, but I think I have a clever enough bunch to deal with it. Our hands are a bit tied until we know.
“Hopefully we can get a jump on it and work towards 2018 as soon as possible. We have been testing some new Showa forks to get some more corner entry traction and stability to help us run higher corner speeds. We have changed the bike quite a lot to understand what that does because if we don’t have top speed, we have to find some speed somewhere.”
Kawasaki bagged the manufacturer’s crown in Magny-Cours, but it doesn’t mean that Rea won’t be trying any less hard in the last four races of the season. He says that winning is the best feeling in the world but denies that Colin Edwards’ 2002 points record is the next target.
“That is something at in race two at Qatar I will think about but it’s not necessarily in my targets right now. Winning races is a bigger deal for me than the championship because the championship is a consequence of all those little moments. There is no better feeling than crossing the line, it is so addictive and the difference it makes coming back to parc ferme. Saturday’s was the best I have ever felt. It was 50 race wins and a world championship. That’s an incredible moment I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Fortunately, Rea suffered no lasting damage in the incident with countryman Laverty, whose prone Milwaukee Aprilia ripped the rearset and brake lever off Rea’s bike, as well as removing some skin from his right foot.
“The good news is that I have had some checks on my right foot and nothing is broken. I hit something really solid on the other bike, as it has broken skin on my foot and it was enough to take my footpeg completely off - the whole set-up. So I am very lucky and it could have been a lot worse. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”