FIM World Superbike surges into motion in a matter of days at the picture-perfect Phillip Island circuit in Australia and Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jonathan Rea will power into contention for a third successive title; a goal that will break a record and cast the 30 year old’s star even higher into the global motorsport stratosphere.
Behind the speed, stats, achievements, rewards and sheer dominance there are four letters and two numbers that form very much the make-up of Jonathan Rea. Just skim through the (recently-turned) thirty year old’s active social media channels and you’ll frequently see the tag ‘#team65’. This is not only in reference to the staff of the Kawasaki Racing Team with which he has forged an almost unbeatable bond but to the small group of friends and, more essentially, his family consisting of wife Tatia and two young boys Jake and Tyler.
By himself, Rea is slight and with a frame that doesn't hint at the strength of a racer that can haul a Ninja ZX-10RR around tracks from Thailand to California as well as his beloved motocross bikes across terrain he often rides between bases in the Isle of Man and Tatia’s native Australia. Rea still carries that aura of world champion. He is a strange blend of a humble, approachable family man from Larne, Northern Ireland to a confident and assured individual that has conquered his niche. He gives an impression of a contended person who knows he is at the very top of a game that is often fickle and always perilous.
‘Some riders are cold. They are killers, very good, very fast and they don't need people around them or an arm around the shoulder, even in life, not just racing,’ Kawasaki Crew Chief Pere Riba says. ‘Jonathan is a guy who needs that kind of warmth around him and he found it in this team. We are all close. Having a close relationship doesn't matter for some riders but for Jonathan it is important.’
‘It surprises me because when I first met Jonathan I did not think he would be the type that would want a baby in the motorhome and I think he even mentioned that to me at one point!’ says Tatia. ‘And I thought ‘that’s OK, it is something we can deal with at the time…’ but it just seems to work and it actually seems to make him go faster on the bike. Maybe it’s because he is not just doing it for himself. It motivates him to do well and to win makes everything we do worthwhile. Some of those sacrifices we make seem to spur him on.’
‘His skills riding the bike mean that he is a top rider,’ Riba adds. ‘In my opinion he could be a top, top athlete in MotoGP. His ability is crazy. He really ‘talks’ with the bike at all moments, going in and going out [of the turns] his feeling is always 99% and when he doesn't cross that limit it is amazing what he can do with a bike.’