Jonathan Rea stays loyal to Honda
Jonathan Rea will have to nurse his MotoGP ambitions for another year as Honda confirms the Northern Irishman will be riding for its World Superbike team again next year. Rea, who has been standing in for the injured Casey Stoner on the Repsol Honda, will once again be donning his motorcycle leathers on the CBR 1000RR Fireblade in 2013.
He will be joined at Honda by fellow Brit Leon Haslam, who makes the move from BMW. Haslam currently lies seventh in the WSBK standings on 189 points, while Rea is fifth on 255.5.
Though younger in years Rea is very much the senior of the two within the team, having been with Honda for several years now. It will be his fifth straight season on the CBR 1000RR Firebalde and sixth under team manager Ronald ten Kate.
"Our new Superbike rider line-up with Jonathan and Leon is stronger than ever and, on the technical side, there will be a lot of upgrades for next season on all fronts, so we really can't wait for 2013 to start," said the Dutchman.
Rea is in fine shape and another blast at the WSBK title in 2013 will surely be followed by a move to MotoGP. He acquitted himself very well at Misano, finishing eighth in the San Marino Grand Prix.
The 25-year-old has also enjoyed wins at Assen and Donington Park in his regular outings for Honda and won the Suzuka 8-hour race.
"I've been loyal to Honda my whole career and that's because I believe in them as a company and I believe that we can achieve more together in the future," says Rea, who has been somewhat frustrated by the machine underneath him this season.
"It's no secret that we’ve been lacking in certain areas but I know there is a team of determined and dedicated guys working away both at the races and at the workshop to improve the bike and to try and be a consistent front runner for next season."
Haslam, meanwhile, is a strong addition to the team as he comes in for the departing Hiroshi Aoyama of Japan, who has struggled this year.
Twenty-nine-year-old Haslam returns to Honda's CBR machinery after a three-year absence. He has been racing in the World Superbike championship since 2009 and was runner-up in the 2010 series. He has amassed a total of 28 podium finishes, including three race wins.
Meanwhile, in the World Supersport championship, Italian Lorenzo Zanetti will ride Honda's CBR600RR alongside Michael van der Mark from the Netherlands.
Brescia-born Zanetti has been in the World Superbike paddock for three years, but started his career with Honda, winning the RS125 GP Cup in Italy in 2004. The 25-year-old finished third in the 2011 Superstock 1000 championship and has spent the 2012 season competing in the World Superbike series for Ducati with a best result of eighth at the Nurburgring in Germany.
The Italian is hopeful that a move to Honda will boost his career. "This is a great opportunity for me to ride for the team that has won eight of the last 11 World Supersport titles," he said. "I think that riding for these guys on Honda's 2013 CBR600RR will be my best opportunity to show what I can do."
Michael van der Mark currently leads the Superstock 600 UEM European championship in only his second season with the EAB Ten Kate Honda Junior Team. The 19-year-old from the Netherlands began his career racing in the Dutch 125cc Junior Cup and has spent the last five years on Honda machinery.
Rea and Haslam will make their final appearances in the WSBK championship at Magny Cours in France on October 7th, before Honda embarks on its winter testing programme ahead of the start of the next season.
Posted by Ray Gibbs