The six-time champ is by far and away the most successful rider in the history of the series and will take him to a decade working with the Japanese manufacturer.
Speculation had been rife that Rea, who will be 36 next year, was looking for a fresh challenge after missing out on the title to Yamaha’s Toprak Razgatlioglu last season, while Ducati rider Alvaro Bautista leads the way this season. Rea, who is celebrating 10 years as a Carole Nash sponsored rider, has been riding as well as ever, despite the Kawasaki ZX-10RR with which he has won over 100 races no longer appearing to be the strongest package on the grid. It is understood that Kawasaki has vowed to step up development of its world superbike programme, and that this has been a key factor in JR’s decision to stay with the brand.
Speaking of his decision to remain with Kawasaki, Rea said: “I am really happy and excited to renew my contract with Kawasaki, to roll on for another two more years. It has been an incredible partnership, we have enjoyed so much success together that it is almost a natural progression. There was not much negotiation needed to continue together from both sides. It was more a case of how much more motivation I had to keep racing at the highest level in the WorldSBK championship. It has been an incredible few seasons; more competitive than ever. I have realised how motivated I am to continue and to continue fighting to win. Kawasaki gave me the opportunity back in 2015 to realise a childhood dream when I won the WorldSBK championship in the first year together. As a partnership we are so solid, and I am looking forward to continue making memories and representing an incredible manufacturer and brand. My team is my racing family. I love everyone inside the team like my own family and relationships like that count for a lot in racing. Huge credit goes to every single person in the staff, from Provec Racing, all the engineers in Japan, and everyone in the Kawasaki family. I am excited to see what we can do over the next two seasons.”
Insidebikes sat down with Jonathan ahead of last weekend’s British round of the series at Donington Park, where he spoke at great length about the bond he has with Kawasaki and the Barcelona based Provec Racing setup, which looks after the day-to-day running of the team. Provec’s Guim Roda, the KRT team manager, added: “Since we signed Johnny for the 2015 season, and until now, we have written a nice part of WorldSBK’s history. We are so proud to be part of this Rea success story, which also means, Kawasaki’s success story. It’s going on eight seasons together now, and Johnny has been performing at the maximum, always. Nowadays, and at the age of 35, he is in his best shape, and we know there's still a lot of dancing left to be done. We have been working hard to define, with KMC, which kind of project we could create for Johnny to allow him to keep pushing at 110%. I think we gave him the motivation he needed to go for it for two years more. We can never rest on the laurels of our successful past, so we will have a hard job to cover JR’s expectations. We are ready for that. We guarantee it will be a real show for at least two more years…”
Jonathan currently lies second in the 2022 championship, just 15 points behind Bautista. His signing means that the ‘Big Three’ from this year’s series are all confirmed as staying with their teams for 2023 – with Razgatlioglu confirmed at Yamaha and Bautista signing an extension to his contract with the factory Ducati team.