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Jonathan Rea lifestyle shoot
NEWS

Four questions with a world champion

Feb 172017

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.

 

 

 

With demands on Rea’s time at a premium as the hype and excitement begins for WorldSBK we were able to throw some questions at the Brit and gain some orientation on his position and remarkable career phase.

Is racing more about being a professional now rather than rabidly chasing a goal?

Not really…I enjoy achieving little things. Just riding the bike isn’t so satisfying but achieving those things are great, like a fast lap-time in testing or knowing you are heading in the right direction with development. When you stop hitting those little marks then I think you stop enjoying it as much. Of course everyone falls in love with riding a bike and wants to do it at the top level but that's not the fun part for me. I think when I stop achieving goals that I have set then it won’t be so much fun and it will be time to call it a day.

"I recall thinking ‘I want to be that guy [who’s winning] so much…"

You won something twice and reached a state of accomplishment that most people can only dream of. Do you sometimes stop and think about it…

Hmmm, no, because I am in ‘the bubble’. Because it is all happening ‘now’ and it is current. I think it will take until some real hard times or an injury or until I retire when I’ll look back and - maybe - think ‘I should have enjoyed that more…’ When you are a kid you grow up and you want to be the best and you want to be world champion, whether it is motocross, MotoGP or whatever. I wanted to be World Champion. I remember having a very philosophical conversation once with Carlos Checa’s [2011 champ] assistant. We were all blind drunk but his words about me waiting for my time and my moment kinda sunk-in. This was around the time that Carlos was having his ‘moment’ in Superbike and was dominating everything and I recall thinking ‘I want to be that guy [who’s winning] so much…I want that feeling he has’. And then when you get it then it seems like something normal. I took everything I could and absorbed everything that Carlos Checa’s assistant was saying about him that night…and now it is happening to me you don't remember being that guy that longed for the seasons I’m having or the race wins. So I’m in the bubble and it is hard to imagine not having it.

"I fear being lost in life..."

How is that feeling when you know you are the best in the world?

I don't think there is much change. The biggest change for me as a person wasn't winning a championship…it was more when I got married, had the kids and was generally happy. What used to grind me was that the media throughout my career pitted-me as the kid with so much potential but with sub-par machinery. It chipped away at me until I got it off my plate. It was tough but I do feel – and how my sick brain works and perhaps it is my upbringing or Christianity – is that you can never be too good for too long. It is like you are waiting for something to happen, some bad news or an injury-

A twist of fate…

Yeah and I can already feel it; winning twice and something like twenty-three times in two seasons. It’s like people are getting bored of that and that there needs to be more people in the mix. People forget that there are others in the mix! Chaz [Davies] was dominant at times in 2016 and Tom [Sykes] the same. So the competition is healthy. I enjoy working with the factory and developing the bikes, I like the fact that engineers are hanging on your feedback and when you see something they have done works well and they realise it then it makes you even happier. I’m living the dream at the moment and the position I am in is bringing a lot of cool stuff.

What do you fear?

I fear being lost in life. Now I have so much focus and dedication on my family and one particular thing. I think about after racing…and what purpose I’ll have apart from being a husband and a father. I want to contribute to ‘people’ in any kind of way and right now I get that satisfaction from making good race results or improving a bike for a manufacturer or enjoying teamwork with a group of people. So I fear losing that purpose in years to come. Turning thirty and you tend to get that ‘long term goal’ question more. I don't want to race for a long, long time more. I have my two year deal with Kawasaki and after that we’ll look into things but I don't have much control over what comes next. Since I was six years old I’ve dedicated my life to motorbikes whether it be motocross or road race. It’s all I’ve known. I don't even know where I might be living in five-ten years. My wife is Australian, my kids are Manx and I’m from Northern Ireland: I don't know where life will take me.

"There’s that feeling of crossing the finish line and those seconds of feeling an achievement: a real ‘Yes! That's in the pocket..."

Lastly what’s the definition of happiness or ecstasy for you?

[pauses] It is so difficult to really define what makes me super-happy…I don't get these massive highs any more. There’s that feeling of crossing the finish line and those seconds of feeling an achievement: a real ‘Yes! That's in the pocket’. Then the Parc Ferme moment is incredible: seeing these grown men ecstatic, faces lit up, hugging each other. If only you could bottle that, you could change someone’s life. It is super-cool. Being announced on the podium is another nice one. I have my two world championship trophies at home and we just reminisce about what an amazing life we have right now. Those moments when you can reflect on what you have done: you cannot beat them. And there is not a lot of time to be able to sit down and do that because we are constantly travelling. I remember arriving home last year and we brought my trophy from Qatar. We had four nights there and I was sitting on the couch with Tarsh and a glass of wine and thinking ‘this was an amazing year…’ You remember little moments like that because in this sport you are never looking back, always forward and looking for improvement. That November night was pretty cool.

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