The Kawasaki WorldSBK team has its line up set for the 2021 season. After signing 2020 championship leader Alex Lowes to another year back in May, Kawasaki signed a new multi-year deal with reigning champion Jonathan Rea.
The press release is short on detail as to how many years the contract is valid for, and as such, for how long Rea intends to continue racing. But it seems unlikely that Rea will in the next couple of years. The contract could also cover the period past the end of his racing career: as the most successful WorldSBK rider in history, Jonathan Rea will be a valuable marketing asset for Kawasaki for many years to come. Some form of ambassadorship will likely have been agreed between Kawasaki and Rea.
The next move in the WorldSBK silly season is on hold at the moment, with Ducati waiting on a decision from Danilo Petrucci. The Italian has an offer of a ride in WorldSBK, but is in advanced negotiations with KTM at the moment, to take over the seat to be vacated by Pol Espargaro's imminent departure to the Repsol Honda team. Much will depend on whether Petrucci takes the second Ducati seat alongside Scott Redding.
The 2020 WorldSBK season is due to restart again on the weekend of August 2nd at Jerez. A new calendar is expected soon, possibly as early as next week.
The press release from Kawasaki appears below:
REA AND KRT RENEW RECORD-BREAKING PARTNERSHIP
Five-time FIM Superbike World Champion Jonathan Rea will continue his record-breaking partnership with Kawasaki and KRT after signing a new multi-year contract.
Rea has won five consecutive WorldSBK championships as a KRT rider, starting in his first Kawasaki year in 2015. The most successful WorldSBK racer in history, the vast majority of Jonathan’s championship points and race wins have been earned while riding Ninja ZX-10R and ZX-10RR machinery creating a legend in the process.
With one race win under his belt already this season, at the only 2020 round to be held so far in Australia, Rea’s competitive nature is as strong as ever as he goes for title number six. Signing his new contract demonstrates his intention to build on and extend his winning streak well beyond this current season.
Jonathan’s ambition is as sharp as ever, especially after confirmation of his new contract with the most successful modern day WorldSBK manufacturer and team in the paddock. His close connection with Kawasaki and KRT is now globally understood and accepted, and in many ways he has become “the face of Kawasaki racing”.
The full support of his wife Tatia, his children and his entire family have been an important element throughout his glittering career, during all the good and more challenging times. The mutually beneficial relationship with his team, one which Jonathan has helped nurture, is an integral part of their combined success.
With current championship leader Alex Lowes already signed with Kawasaki beyond 2020 KRT has moved early in its rider choices for the next era of its overall WorldSBK campaign.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “I am super happy to sign a new contract with Kawasaki and KRT. What we have achieved together is incredible. Our success is driven by a great team and of course the base of the project - our Ninja ZX-10RR. I will keep working hard, together with my crew, the engineers at KHI to be in the best condition every single race. This period away from racing has reignited a burning desire to keep winning and continue to improve my skills and the package of our bike. Racing never stands still and all the riders and manufactures are continuing to improve - we must do the same. Now we can fully focus on our 2020 WorldSBK season where racing will restart soon. I want to thank Kawasaki, the team and all my sponsors for their continued support and this great opportunity.”
Guim Roda (KRT Team Manager): “Everyone in the team is delighted that Jonathan will be with us again. In racing we cannot assume anything until it is completed so we are very happy that JR65 has confirmed his future with Kawasaki and us. Everyone involved understands that this is a long-term project and that continuity and success go hand-in-hand. As a rider Jonathan has incredible talents that are very rare. For sure, to keep him as part of KRT gives us a chance to create yet more WorldSBK and racing history. His pit crew and everyone at KRT are delighted to continue this hugely rewarding professional and personal journey together.”
Steve Guttridge (KME Racing Manager): “Since Jonathan signed his first deal to race with us in 2015 it has been a dream partnership. Kawasaki as a group had our full focus on extending our relationship into the future. This season, his sixth with us, means that JR is very much part of the Kawasaki family and his record-breaking partnership with the Ninja is revered by our competition and has amazed our fans worldwide. Jonathan - together with his great crew, the team and our engineers - once more has the perfect combination for success. JR's professionalism, approach to racing - and particularly his mentality - have helped us as a manufacturer to define our blueprint to racing success. Together we aim to continue rewriting the history books and breaking records together. The whole Kawasaki family and Kawasaki fans worldwide welcome the new multi-year agreement with Jonathan and we are excited to witness the next chapter of this amazing story unfold.”