On The Record: Jonathan Rea

Castrol Honda World Superbike rider, Repsol Honda MotoGP substitute rider.

Jonathan Rea

On the Record: Jonathan Rea

My priority is Superbike. I only agreed to replace injured Casey Stoner for two races in MotoGP because I'd lost touch in the championship with Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri. It was a good way for me to get more experience.

The Bridgestone tires don't give much feedback. The potential and performance are so high, but you don't understand where the limit is of the front tire. You have to forget everything you grew up learning and doing and trust something that you don't know what it's going to give back.

When the Bridgestone tires break traction in the wet, you can play with the rear a little bit. When the Pirelli in Superbike breaks rear grip, normally you end up on your head.

Nobody likes riding in the rain. Sure, some riders go better than others, but it brings more risk, it's not good for the fans and it makes the bikes dirty for the mechanics.

For sure, there's a difference between carbon and steel brakes. Strength and response of the carbon brakes are a little better. You know when you used to adjust the brake cable on your BMX bike so that if you just touched the lever you'd do a stoppie? That's what a MotoGP carbon brake feels like. Steel brakes don't have the bite of carbon, but they're still at a very high level.

The GP way has always been to be rigid, rigid, rigid. But there comes a time when you need a lot of feedback from the chassis to know what the bike is doing underneath you. In Superbike, the flex and chassis movement give a lot of feedback to the rider. In MotoGP, you're basically sitting on a rock. There's a lot less feeling.

I know exactly what I need to do to be fast in this class. But to actually do it is… That's the greatest thing I've got to get in my brain.

I'm not going to say that all of the best riders in the world are here, but my feeling right now is that the three best riders in the world work in this paddock. When I can compare data with Dani Pedrosa, it's easy to be a better rider.

My style is more suited to Superbike right now. I get on the throttle as hard, if not harder, than Dani, and I brake earlier or harder. But the key to MotoGP right now with these tires is the transition off the brakes to more lean angle and getting the bike set up where I need it to be. That's where I'm struggling.

Right now, there's much more enthusiasm from manufacturers to develop things in Superbike because the rules are stable. It would be nice for both championships to work together. They haven't figured out how to get the best guys on the same grid. Until that time, it's pretty uncertain.

For me, growing up, Grand Prix was Kevin Schwantz, Mick Doohan. It was prototypes—the most exotic bikes in the world. The prestige of GP is always there because it's cutting-edge technology, but if you want to see close racing, then it's the "other" side.

That's the really good part of World Superbike: If you start the race from the first or second row, you have a chance to win it. You know you've done your homework when you qualify eighth and go on to win. In MotoGP, there are three guys who can say, "I can maybe win today." When Jorge, Dani and Casey are on song, the rest are racing for fourth.

Sometimes, cutting the yard seems more thrilling than being a spectator watching from home.

There are teams in Superbike that are on MotoGP-spec electronics. So, that's one part where our team can really improve next year.

Ride-by-wire has made a big difference for corner entry and to be more consistent through a lap. But it's only as good as the strategies you write into the software.

Rules are rules, and I understand why they have to change. If we have to ride with headlight stickers and 17-inch wheels, fine. When we tested the first batch of 17-inch rubber, in some cases, they were faster and more consistent through race-length runs.

My contract is with Honda Motor Europe. We discussed a lot of different options for next year and beyond. Come August, we'll have the same old silly season and see what happens.

Hopefully, I can extract everything I can out of this experience and take it back to World Superbike to build a better package for us next year.