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Six-time WorldSBK champion Rea to leave Kawasaki for Yamaha ahead for 2024

Six-time WorldSBK champion Rea to leave Kawasaki for Yamaha ahead for 2024

Six-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea will join Yamaha when he leaves Kawasaki at the end of the current season.

Rea has signed a two-year contract to race alongside Andrea Locatelli from the start of the 2024 campaign. The 36-year-old had one year remaining on his Kawasaki contract but the agreement has been ended by “mutual consent.”

The Northern Irishman joined Kawasaki in 2015 from Honda, where he became the first – and only – driver ever to win six consecutive WorldSBK Championships. All six titles were win between 2015 and 2020.

Rea will replace Toprak Razgatlioglu, who is joining BMW, at the Pata Yamaha team.

“I want to thank everyone at KMC and KRT for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to prove myself at the highest level,” Rea said in a statement.

“I have learned and grown so much as a person and a rider since the first day throwing my leg over the factory Ninja ZX-10R superbike.

“Winning six consecutive WorldSBK Championships will always be the most obvious highlight of my time with Kawasaki; but it will also be the amazing memories, the life lessons and the laughs that I will take with me into the future. And, for sure, it’s our mission to complete the 2023 season as strongly and with as much commitment as we have always shown.

“Now, looking back on our journey, it fills me with pride at the joy and happiness we have brought Kawasaki fans and Kawasaki owners around the world. This is not a goodbye, because you don’t say goodbye to family, but it is simply the end of this incredible chapter. I wish everyone at KRT the best of luck for the chapters that will surely follow.

Aside from his six WorldSBK titles, Rea has accrued a number of other records including race wins, podiums, fastest laps and overall points scored.

Confirming the news, Yamaha released a statement that read:

“Despite his phenomenal career, [Jonathan] Rea’s hunger for success has not diminished, and his aim is clear, to add to his record-breaking tally of victories and become the first rider to win seven WorldSBK titles.

“Yamaha Motor Europe is delighted to have secured his services in a two-year deal. The new agreement will see Rea form a formidable partnership alongside Italian teammate Andrea Locatelli, with the duo competing onboard the highly competitive Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK R1 together until 2025.2

Rea is currently third in the 2023 World SBK standings. It is not currently clear who will replace him and ride alongside Alex Lowes at Kawasaki in 2024.

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