Interviews 21 Feb 2019

Fast Thoughts: Jonathan Rea

Four-time WorldSBK champion shares his thoughts on a selection of topics.

With four consecutive FIM Motul Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) crowns behind him, Jonathan Rea enters the 2019 series as the most successful rider in the category, and he currently carries an 11-race winning streak. With Kawasaki Racing Team’s official launch taking place at Sam Remo in Victoria last weekend, was on hand to cover the event, tracking down Rea for this edition of Fast Thoughts ahead of Phillip Island’s opener.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Your desire and motivation to start another season as four-time world champion…

It’s really good. I’ve talked about my obsession with winning – you’re part of that little bubble. Once it becomes normal, having tough times or losing becomes really hard to accept. It’s kind of that fear of losing that is really motivating right now. This off-season we got our hands on a new bike, which is nice, and we’ve been able to try a range of different engine specs and understand how that works with the chassis. That’s been really motivating understanding all the changes – it feels like a new year at school – it’s really fresh.

Comparing yourself to the rider that entered Kawasaki Racing Team in 2015…

As a person I feel much more rounded, mature and experienced. It’s hard to buy experience – I would give a lot of advice to my younger self. From a bike point of view, we’ve just rolled with the punches – we’ve faced so many regulation changes in four years that we’ve had to adapt the Kawasakis. That’s helped us learn to play to our strengths with the bike. Last year, one of the areas we struggled with most in the engine regulations was engine performance, so we had to maximise our chassis. I learned a lot about the bike and how to set it up to maximise braking stability and maintaining corner speed. I’m 32 now, and I feel like I’m still learning every year.

The effect of confidence at your level…

Confidence is everything in this world. You don’t need to be on the best bike or be the best prepared rider, but if your confidence is sky high, it takes you so far. It only takes for the all the ducks to be lined up – sometimes you suffer a bit, things don’t go right and your confidence drops and things turn to shit. I’ve been really lucky – last year I found that point where I felt invincible. The bike was good, I got onto it every weekend and I felt good. Confidence is everything in racing. So many guys out there can ride bikes really fast, but unless you have the confidence to do things that little bit better, then it’s not going to make a difference.