Jonathan Rea may be the latest rider to move out from World Superbike Championship and into the elite ranks of the MotoGP paddock, as according to MCN the Northern Irish rider has confirmed that he is in talks via HRC to move into the premier class for next season.
Currently riding for Ten Kate’s factory-backed Pata Honda team in WSBK, Rea has been virtually the only rider in World Superbike able to ride the Honda CBR1000RR race bike with any success, as Honda struggles to make its race package more approachable for other riders, and more competitive against the competition.
Carrying a torch for Honda’s WSBK effort, it looks like Rea’s efforts will finally be rewarded, if all goes according to plan, with a bump into MotoGP being the ultimate prize — likely on a Honda Production Racer.
While Honda is still developing the more affordable stripped-down version of the Honda RC213V for private teams, Big Red has been around the paddock trying to sell the five packages it plans on providing to MotoGP in 2014.
While rumor has it that Honda is having a tougher time closing sales than it originally thought, it has come out that HRC is mentioning Jonathan Rea’s name as riders that Honda would like to see on the machine.
One team that might be on the short list for a Honda Production Racer / Jonathan Rea combination is Paul Bird Motorsports (PBM), an ex-WSBK British team that has made no secret about its desire for an all-British rider line-up in MotoGP.
Currently running an Aprilia ART for rider Yonny Hernandez and an RSV4-powered bike of the team’s own design for Michael Laverty, it is not a large stretch of the imagination to see PBM drop Hernandez for Rea, especially as uncertainty circles around the ART project and which designation the motorcycle will have under Dorna’s new MotoGP rules.
Teams like PBM could certainly do worse than Rea, who has unequivocally shown himself to be among the top riders in WSBK. Rea also has MotoGP and Bridgestone experience (a huge plus), as the 26-year-old substituted for Casey Stoner at last year’s round at Misano — finishing a modest eighth place in the race.
Talking to Bike Sport News though, Rea isn’t limiting his options solely to Honda equipment, and says that he has been in talks with other private teams about a non-MSMA ride.
With Honda set to debut its long-rumored new MotoGP-inspired V4 sport bike, Rea’s options in WSBK are finally looking a bit brighter, and the Brit hasn’t ruled out staying in the premier production racing class. As always, time will tell.