Jonathan Rea: Six-time World Superbike champion to leave Kawasaki and join Yamaha

Jonathan Rea racing for Kawasaki
Jonathan Rea has raced in Kawasaki colours for nine years

Northern Ireland's Jonathan Rea will end his nine-year stint racing for Kawasaki at the end of the 2023 World Superbike season and switch to Yamaha.

The record six-time champion had one year remaining on his contract with the Kawasaki Racing Team but that agreement has been ended "by mutual consent".

He has signed a two-year contract and will race alongside Andrea Locatelli in the Pata Yamaha team. in 2024.

Rea, 36, won all of his world titles with Kawasaki between 2015 and 2020.

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

Rea said he has "learnt and grown so much as a person and rider" while working with Kawasaki.

"Winning six consecutive WorldSBK Championships will always be the most obvious highlight of my time with Kawasaki," said Rea.

"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."

After winning six titles in a row, Rea was edged out by Turkish rider Razgatlioglu in the race for the 2021 World Superbike crown and finished a distant third behind new champion Alvaro Bautista and Razgatlioglu in the 2022 series, despite winning six races.

Rea's Kawasaki has suffered from a deficit in straight-line speed in recent seasons, in comparison to the Yamaha and particularly Bautista's Ducati.

The Ballyclare rider has won just one of the 24 races staged so far in the 2023 championship, that coming in the first race of the most recent race weekend in the Czech Republic in July, and Bautista is on track to retain his title.

The Spaniard enjoys a 74-point lead over Razgatlioglu in the standings, with Rea a further 102 points in arrears.

After the latest round of the series at the Most circuit in late July, Rea had indicated that he would use the subsequent six-week break to make "a clear decision" about his future.

The most successful rider in the history of the championship, the County Antrim man has racked up a remarkable 119 career World Superbike race wins and 256 podiums in the 401 races he has competed in to date.

Fifteen of those successes came during the period in which he was part of the Honda team between 2009 and 2014, with the remainder secured during his record-breaking partnership with Kawasaki since 2015.

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