Rea: Seamless transition from WSBK to MotoGP now impossible
Jonathan Rea believes the days of riders making a seamless switch from World Superbikes to MotoGP are over, amid speculation of title rival Toprak Razgatlioglu making the move in 2023.
Rea’s run of six consecutive world titles with Kawasaki in WSBK since 2015 has roughly coincided with the demise of the production-based series’ once well-established status as an alternative feeder series to MotoGP.
While the likes of Colin Edwards, Troy Bayliss, Ben Spies and Cal Crutchlow all enjoyed relatively successful switches, in recent years MotoGP appearances by WSBK riders have been mostly limited to wildcard outings that have not led to full-time deals.
Rea himself contested two races in MotoGP aboard a Repsol Honda in place of Casey Stoner in 2012, but despite consistent speculation about a move to grand prix racing, he has always opted to stay in WSBK, where he is now statistically the all-time greatest rider.
Razgatlioglu’s emergence as a threat to Rea this year however garnered interest from within the MotoGP paddock, and the Turkish rider is even thought to have turned down a chance to race for Yamaha’s satellite RNF team in 2022 in favour of staying in WSBK.
Although he signed a fresh two-year contract with Yamaha’s WSBK outfit, Razgatlioglu has left the door open to a potential move to MotoGP in 2023.
But Rea believes the way MotoGP has evolved since his wildcard outings in 2012 mean that any rider making the move now would now likely struggle – citing the poor results obtained by the likes of Garrett Gerloff (pictured top) and Jake Dixon in their MotoGP one-offs.
“I think MotoGP now is at a really high level,” Rea told Motorsport.com. “Look at what Crutchlow did [as an injury replacement for Franco Morbidelli], after some races away from MotoGP. Look at Jake Dixon at Silverstone, very talented rider.
“These guys [racing in MotoGP] are super-fast. Look at Marc Marquez, he spent most of last season away [due to injury], and even for him it’s been tough.
“The gap between the top guys and the slowest guys is so small, because every manufacturer is competitive and even the satellite teams are now quite ‘factory’. Aprilia is probably the least competitive and they’ve had a podium, it’s incredible.
“It’s not like it was 10 years ago, when you could be 30 seconds from the front and be maybe in the top 10. Now, if you finish 30 seconds from the front, you’re last. Everything’s so different now. You can’t just jump on these bikes and be there.
“When I did it [for Honda in 2012], I was about 30 seconds off the front and seventh. Nowadays that’s not good enough.”
Valentino Rossi recently said he felt it was a “shame” that Rea was never able to make the move full-time to MotoGP, while also expressing his enthusiasm about a potential switch to the grand prix paddock for Razgatlioglu.
Bautista "proud" to pave way for Spanish riders to join WSBK
Oettl joins Go Eleven WSBK team on two-year deal