‘I want to stick it to my ri­vals’

Rea’s mo­ti­va­tion is beat­ing mouthy op­po­nents, nnot se­cur­ing a his­toric triple ti­tle on the bounce

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - MCN WSB REPORTER GOR­DON RICHIE

The 2016 sea­son saw Jonathan Rea be­come the first rider since World Su­per­bike leg­end Carl Fogarty to win back-to-back crowns.

This year will see him try to bet­ter that record as he goes for a his­toric third ti­tle on the bounce – a feat that not even four-time champ Fogarty ever achieved. And, on the eve of the 2017 sea­son, the hat-trick ap­pears to be a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­ity for Rea and the Kawasaki Rac­ing Team af­ter a strong show­ing in pre-sea­son test­ing.

“When you are from the UK and you think about WSB you think about guys like Foggy, who’s top of the list, Tose­land, who won two cham­pi­onships and Hodgson who also won a ti­tle,” Rea said to MCN.

“I think I will be re­mem­bered as a back-to-back World Cham­pion as there have only been four in WSB!”

Those rid­ers are Fogarty, Fred Merkel and Doug Polen, but while the prospect of a unique three-in-a-row would be an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment for Rea, it’s not some­thing he’s fo­cus­ing on.

“Mo­ti­va­tion for me does not come from a pos­si­ble ‘three­p­eat’,” said Rea, with some con­vic­tion. “Mo­ti­va­tion for me comes from beat­ing my ri­vals, beat­ing Tom, beat­ing Chaz, Eugene and Marco Me­landri.”

“It is a huge ri­valry, in your head. It’s not me think­ing about money or a re­peat, or his­tory books. It is th­ese guys that I race against and the things they say that piss me off!

“That is where the mo­ti­va­tion is, beat­ing your ri­vals. Not the money, not even be­ing world cham­pion as I’ve done that. It’s now about try­ing to stick

‘It is th­ese guys that I race against and the things they say that piss me off!’ JONATHAN REA

one over my ri­vals.”

It’s widely thought that the 2017 WSB sea­son is go­ing to be the most com­pet­i­tive in years, but Rea is ex­pe­ri­enced enough not to make any rash pre-sea­son pre­dic­tions.

“No­body knows!” he ex­claimed when asked. “Ev­ery­one gets so ex­cited at this time of year and there are prob­a­bly seven or eight rea­sons for ev­ery­one to be­lieve things will be dif­fer­ent, but we just have to wait and see.

“What I know is that it might not be eas­ier to win the cham­pi­onship but it is cer­tainly go­ing to be eas­ier in­side my team with our bike be­cause we are not try­ing to learn a new bike. Whether that means it is go­ing to be eas­ier to win races and a cham­pi­onship – I highly doubt that. The com­pe­ti­tion never stands still. I have been the ref­er­ence point for two years and ev­ery­body has got a lot of mo­ti­va­tion to win.” MCN says: Rea’s two-year dom­i­nance of WSB speaks for it­self, but there is no doubt that the com­pe­ti­tion will be in­tense with his ri­vals more fo­cused than ever to beat the reign­ing champ. Rea is a man that won on the Honda, dom­i­nated on the Kawasaki and re­mains at the very top of his game. He’s al­ready lapped on par with the Motogp boys in win­ter test­ing and 2017 could be the year we find out ex­actly how good and how fast the North­ern Ir­ish­man can re­ally go when re­ally pushed to the limit by his ri­vals.

Rea is more fo­cused than ever as he chases a third con­sec­u­tive WSB ti­tle

With very few changes for 2017, the Kawasaki squad will be fast from the off

Rea has even matched Motogp times in test­ing

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