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Rea set for shock Yamaha WSBK switch in 2024

Six-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea is set to join Yamaha next season in a sensational switch to replace BMW-bound Toprak Razgatlioglu.

Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team WSBK, Toprak Razgatlioglu, Pata Yamaha WorldSBK

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Rea joined Kawasaki in 2015 after six seasons at Honda in WSBK, with the Ulsterman going on to dominate the series aboard the ZX-10RR.

He won six consecutive championships between 2015 and 2020, setting the record for the most race victories in the process at 119.

Rea was dethroned by Razgatlioglu aboard the Yamaha in 2021, while Ducati dominator Alvaro Bautista was champion last year and is well on course to add to his tally in 2023.

The 37-year-old Northern Irish rider has a Kawasaki deal in place for 2024, though the competitiveness of the ZX-10RR has waned in recent years, with Rea only so far winning once in 2023.

One of the big shocks of the 2024 rider market came earlier this year when Razgatlioglu announced he would be leaving Yamaha to join BMW, also ending faint hopes of a MotoGP switch with the Japanese marque next season.

Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team WSBK

Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team WSBK

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

With Razgatlioglu's departure to BMW, Rea has seen the possibility of having access to a more competitive bike right now and after nine seasons at Kawasaki with the same team, he has decided that it is time to take his chances in WSBK as he nears the end of his career.

Rea's move to Yamaha comes after the six-time world champion was able to terminate his contract with Kawasaki, parting ways by mutual consent.

Rea, who returns to action next weekend with the French WorldSBK event at Magny-Cours, used the last few days of the summer break this weekend to visit the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya to follow the Catalan GP.

In other WSBK news, former Ducati, Suzuki and Aprilia MotoGP rider Andrea Iannone is nearing a return to racing in 2024 in the series.

Iannone is currently serving a doping ban handed out by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) after a banned steroid was found during a routine test during the 2019 Malaysian GP weekend.

Though Iannone pleaded his innocence and insists that it was through meat contamination, this was dismissed and he was issued a four-year ban that retroactively began from the 2019 Malaysian GP weekend.

With that expiring in 2024, Iannone is set to return to racing in WSBK with a Ducati satellite team, which was confirmed to WorldSBK.com by the Italian marque's general manager Gigi Dall'Igna.

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