World Superbike

Rea "praying" for new Kawasaki WSBK model in 2021

Jonathan Rea says he is "praying" for a new Kawasaki World Superbike base model next season that will allow him to keep up with the championship's newer machinery.

Kawasaki's current ZX-10RR entered service in 2017, and although it was re-homologated in 2019 it has only been given minor updates since then.

Meanwhile, Ducati and BMW both introduced all-new bikes for the 2019 season - the V4 Panigale R and the S1000RR respectively - while this year Honda brought in the radical CBR1000RR-R Fireblade and Yamaha gave its R1 a major update.

BMW has also upped the ante for 2021 by announcing the arrival of the M1000RR, effectively a homologation special variant of the S1000RR with an upgraded engine.

"There’s always room to improve, but I feel right now we’re getting the best out of the package," said Rea of the current Kawasaki following this month's Barcelona round.

But the five-time champion and current points leader fears that the global coronavirus pandemic means it's unlikely Kawasaki will commit to building a new bike.

Asked by Motorsport.com if he feels he needs a new Kawasaki base model next year to stay competitive, Rea quipped: "I’m praying every night for that! That would be the best Christmas present I could ever imagine.

"In the current climate with what we’re going through right now in the world, I don’t know what’s going to happen, so… I cross my fingers, but it’s out of my hands. It’s a Japanese decision. So let’s see."

Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Asked what else besides horsepower he would be looking for with a new bike, the Ulsterman added: "We need to improve the chassis a little bit, especially the rear of the bike and how it transfers [its weight] on to the rear.

"In stop-and-go circuits like Magny-Cours and Thailand, with these corners where you’re at zero and then going, the Kawasaki is working really well. But in all long corners where we need to transfer to the rear to be smooth, we’re struggling a little bit.

"That’s the main focus of development for the winter into next year. It’s very hard to chase that feeling during a race weekend. That’s the target for the off-season."

Rea holds a handsome 51-point advantage over Ducati rival Scott Redding with two rounds to go in this year's championship, taking his ninth victory of the year in straightforward style during Barcelona's first-ever WSBK race this month.

But following a run to fourth behind Ducati's Chaz Davies and the Yamahas of Michael van der Mark and Garrett Gerloff in the second full-length race of the season, Rea remarked that the margin for error with the Kawasaki is smaller than with other bikes.

His comments appear to be borne out by the struggles of his factory Kawasaki teammate Alex Lowes, who didn't finish higher than seventh in Barcelona and hasn't had a podium finish since his Phillip Island victory back in March.

"When the stars align I can win," said Rea. "But it’s really easy to see from racing that when others make a mistake on the lap, they can keep the laptime, [whereas] I get penalised quite a lot if I run wide. It has a real knock-on effect on the lap."

Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team, Michael van Der Mark, Pata Yamaha

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

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