The first piece of the 2019 WSBK rider jigsaw has fallen into place after Kawasaki’s Jonny Rea announced he will spend another two years riding for the Japanese manufacturer.
Rea’s extension with Kawasaki comes after week’s of speculation that the Ulsterman was set to turn his back on the factory outfit for a ride with Suzuki in MotoGP or by switching allegiance within the WSBK series and signing for Ducati.
Choosing to stay at Kawasaki, Rea looks set to dominate the series for the immediate future on board the all-conquering ZX-10RR.
Rea said: “I am more than happy to continue in these next two seasons with the Kawasaki Racing Team. Since the end of last season we have already started to talk about continuing our partnership, so it’s nice to finalize everything now, so that we can concentrate on the remaining races of 2018.
“From the moment I arrived at the end of 2014, I was welcomed into the Kawasaki family and since then we have achieved success beyond our wildest dreams. Here is where I want to stay. Of course, it feels natural to keep writing this incredible story together, and I want to thank everyone in the Kawasaki Racing Team for believing in me and for this opportunity.”
“Together we will work harder than ever to keep the ZX-10RR at the front of WSBK in the future. I have the best team of people around me to ensure that we can continue fighting for the World Championship.”
The singing will trigger intense activity among the rest of the field and the question is now is where Rea’s rivals will land for 2019 – with rumors still circling about the futures of Chaz Davies and Tom Sykes, and the bikes they could possibly be riding next season.
The future of Sykes at Kawasaki seems perilous; Sykes and Rea have clashed ever since Rea joined the team, and their recent clash in Brno has brought things to a head.
Sykes has been linked to several rides in the WSBK paddock, especially Yamaha, and it is widely believed he will replace Van Der Mark within the team.
Sykes is expected to announce his plans imminently, and this will then trigger a flurry of moves.