Five-time WorldSBK king Jonathan Rea is expecting new team-mate Alex Lowes to make a ‘huge step’ when he joins the works Kawasaki team in 2020.
Lowes will change from Yamaha blue to green when he rolls down the Motorland Aragon pitlane in a few weeks at the first test and Rea is expecting him to be fast from the off.
“He comes from Yamaha and it looks like they have really good performance,” Rea told bikepsportnews.com. “I already spoke a little bit about him and I am excited to work together because he can bring a lot of experience.
“Also, from the point of working together in Suzuka, he is a really good guy away from the track. Aside from what happened between Alex and I in the last corner at Jerez, he was super-cool about it. He texted me straight away. So he is a good guy and he is going be a competitive team-mate like Leon was and Tom was. I am looking forward to it.
He is going to find an incredible team, good people, and in our sport humans still make a difference. I am sure together he is going to make a huge step in his career and I expect him to be fighting at the front like me.”
Rea will also test for the 2020 season soon, at Aragon and then Jerez, but nobody is really expecting a hyper-Ninja next year, even though Rea says he is unsure of Kawasaki’s final plans. But everybody expects Rea to be as hungry as ever, and the 2020 Kawasaki to be competitive in Rea’s hands.
“Our base model is the same, I guess. There is not so much information from Kawasaki right now. We will continue to work on the base set-up and try to refine the package, work every weekend like we have and keep an open mind. Superbike is in a great place right now, competition is so high, with different manufacturers and riders so there is a lot of reason for excitement for 2020. We are just going to work like we have. Again I won the championship by more than 150 points and we need to keep working in the same way.”
Rea is even thinking on how he can improve his own physical approach, having seen the tiny Bautista scream past him many times, which is partly a function of his lack of weight.
“I am going to try and work a little bit on myself,” said Rea. “I saw with Alvaro and Chaz. Chaz is a lot heavier than Alvaro and in a race the effect of speed is not massive with Chaz, but with Alvaro it is. I think I have some margin in the off-season to lose some kilos and that is a small target for me.
“Apart from that, work with the same way with team every weekend. I am in a good position now because I have won a championship from the front and now from the rear and managed really well. Try to enjoy the team and bike like I always do, try to stay injury free, and start again.
We are asking for power from Kawasaki but inside these regulations we can do nothing. It is how it is. That is Superbike right now. We give all the feedback every weekend to KHI, the production team, R&D teams, and I am sure they will put all those comments to good use. But when we see the finished product of that, or a new model, we have to wait and see.”
So what is keeping Rea, the all-time best WorldSBK rider, as motivated to win next year as the previous five championship winning ones.
“I want to win, 100%, it is infectious,” said Rea in response. “Maybe I do not stand back and look at what I am doing. I just turn the page. Next week I will be at EICMA (the Milan bike show) talking about 2020, the following week we are in Motorland Aragon with our fancy winter test clothing on, and talking about working towards 2020. So you never really get time to take stock of what has happened. It is hard, I feel in my position right now, because being here the only way for me is to keep this level – barring any huge mishap technical reasons, or injuries or lack of confidence, I feel like we can stay there for some time. I feel I am learning every year and improving as well in myself.”
Rea took a huge 17 wins in 2019, but with a supposed 39 races to take them in (a real 37 after the cancellation of races in Assen and Imola for weather concerns) he feels going for 18 or more in 2020 ha a limited reality value.
‘With three races in a weekend it kind of puts that stat… it makes no sense. You just have to manage the season how you manage. Every year you are faced with a different situation. The race wins don’t matter. There is a lot of chatter about how I won the championship this year, but I think I led the most races, won the most races, fastest laps award and a huge winning margin. I am super-satisfied.”