UM: The current Kawasaki ZX-10RR has been in use for a full season now. How has the bike developed since its introduction?
Rea: Basically, when we had the new model, we started working with new components; things like engine braking, swing arms, testing different things. Last year we had a huge list to get through and it felt like throughout the year all we were doing was testing and sometimes going in the wrong direction with set up.
So in the off season, we found a good base setting and we’re not going too far away from that now. Last year felt like testing, this year feels like racing.
UM: You’ve had the opportunity to see the MotoAmerica paddock first hand, who are some of the stand out riders that’d you’d like to see move to the world stage? And on the same note, what sort of steps can the organization take as a whole?
Rea: I think right now, Jake Gagne is doing a good job to have a wildcard here and put his face amongst the Superbike team managers. I’m a huge fan of his because he’s a really accomplished motocross guy as well and I love my motocross. I rode at a high-level; schoolboy amateur level. I know he scored points at a national only a couple years ago, which is impressive.
Guys like Cameron Beaubier came over and did a wildcard a year ago and did an okay job. The problem is, right here now, you have really good riders on the top bikes so it doesn’t make sense for the top American guys to come over on a team that’s not well funded or not at a high-level; they’re better off hanging here on their good teams.
It would be good to see both the Superbike regulations be more stable with the domestic champions like BSB or MotoAmerica, so it encourages more wildcards. Maybe if we didn’t have the MotoAmerica championship here this weekend, we might see some wildcards from the Yamaha guys or the Suzuki guys which would be really, really nice. It’d be like the old days, where you go to Brands Hatch and you have the BSB guys there but we need to see more common ground with the regulations to see that happen.
Basically, I think it has to come first from the manufacturers. Right now, Suzuki and Yamaha are the only official presence here. I hope Kawasaki can come with an official team and Honda as well, coming back to the level that they had a number of years ago. I think that would help the championship.
Until that happens, there aren’t that many lucrative rides to take young kids to the next level. There seems like there are only four really good seats to be on and one of them is occupied by a Spanish guy that’s come here and Toni’s doing a good job. Hayes has been here a long time as well. So there aren’t too many seats that kids can get on.
The Supersport series is stacked with talent but there’s really nowhere for them to go to take their career to the next level. Hopefully more teams will come here with better support, so that the Superbike class can become more competitive.
UM: There have been some unsubstantiated rumors that you could possibly be leaving the WSBK paddock and making the jump to MotoGP. Can you speak on any of that?
Rea: Right now, I’m just thinking about this season and Superbike, not really thinking about the future to be honest. I’m enjoying things here right now and I’m at the top, which is a difficult position to be in because the only way is down. So, I want to keep trying to win as much as I can but the future will look after itself; we’ll see what happens.
UM: I know you guys are on a tight schedule, so let’s just wrap up with a fun question: how often are you out on your motocross bike?
Rea: I ride a lot! When I’m at home, I try to ride twice a week and I love it. It’s not just great training but its great concentration because the track is always changing. It’s part of my heart, really.