Rea can't picture retirement, motivation at "all-time high" – Motorsport.comMotivational
Rea goes into the 2022 season not carrying the #1 plate for the first time since his first season as a Kawasaki rider in 2015, after losing out in an epic title contest to Yamaha rival Razgatlioglu last year.
As things stand, 35-year-old Rea is also set to be well among the oldest riders on the grid following Chaz Davies’ decision to retire last season and Leon Haslam and Tom Sykes losing their rides at Honda and BMW respectively (although there remains a chance Sykes could still race this year).
But despite reaching the age that many riders start to consider life beyond racing, Rea insists his desire to stay on the grid and continue to fight for further championship success remains strong.
“At this stage of my career, I feel like motivation is at an all-time high,” Rea told the official WSBK website. “Right now, I’m motivated just by winning, pushing my bike to its limits, beating my rivals, but I also get a lot of enjoyment from travelling to new places and working hard with my team in the background.
“What was a strange feeling for me [last] year was when Chaz retired. He’s been my career rival and I almost wanted to go to Chaz and say, ‘Hey man, is this something that creeps up season-by-season or race-by-race or does it just arrive one day and that’s it,’ because I know my time’s going to come but I want to finish my way. I must say that the feeling isn’t around right now.
“It’s about winning, trying to do my best at Kawasaki and enjoying it too; it’s a lot of hard efforts in the off-season and for me at home. If you’re not enjoying it, then it would be the perfect time to step away but when there’s the possibility to win and you’re having fun, I’ll be lining up on the grid for sure.”
Rea noted that one benefit of losing out on last year’s title to Razgatlioglu has been a reduced workload over the winter, the Ulsterman having been able to fully recharge his batteries in between the Jerez post-season test in December and the first running of 2022 at the same track.
“This off-season has been really nice; sometimes when you’re winning a championship, it’s incredible: for TV, for media etc,” he said.
“However, what you don’t see in the background is the marketing commitments, flying everywhere to see a sponsor, manufacturer, or country. The last time I was on a plane before this test [at Jerez] was in December to come here, so I’ve had such a good off-season.
“Sometimes, the weight of that #1 is heavy. I’ve enjoyed the positive sides of not being world champion, but it doesn’t outweigh wanting the #1; I want that and I’m going to work hard to get it this season.”
Rea, who will use the #65 plate on his works Kawasaki ZX-10RR this year, added he feels that Razgatlioglu goes into the new campaign as the rider to beat.
“You would be silly to bet against him and I really feel that he starts as favourite, and I think that it really helps the preparations and the hype surrounding him and his future,” Rea said of Razgatlioglu. “I’m curious to see how he is going to perform in 2022.”
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