Stephen English: Have you noticed any major differences in yourself since becoming a father?
Jonathan Rea: I have always been organised but now I have to be much more organised with my time. In fact, I’m not sure how I used to fill my days, now that I am so busy with Jake. I try to be as involved as possible to give my wife a break and to be there as much as I can for my son.
SE: For most elite athletes having a child means that they have to be less ‘selfish’ than in the past, you have to put someone else before your own priorities. Have you found this and if so how has it affected you?
JR: Of course, especially at social events. My brother-in-law got married recently and we party pooped and were in bed by 11pm! My priorities have changed and it’s not all about me anymore, but it’s also still very important that I do the required training for my job. It’s once again about prioritising your time.
SE: How would you sum up the 2013 season?
JR:Very disappointing! Every off-season I go away and make myself the best I can be off the bike in preparation for the season ahead, but it felt that, in 2013, we started so far behind, my motivation dropped a little. I had to be realistic and develop an electronics package that should have been developed over the winter if we had received parts on time. Consequently, we were constantly playing catch-up to our rivals. And then the injury at Nurburgring, when I crashed on someone else’s oil, put my season to bed.
SE: The Honda was outgunned for most of last year, what were the major weaknesses of the bike?
JR: We have always struggled on really fast circuits like Monza because we are a little bit behind on top speed. And also our electronic strategies last season were very under developed as I mentioned before.
SE: Last year yourself and Leon [Haslam] both fractured your legs, how much did this hold back the development of the package or is it simply at the end of its development cycle?
JR: I honestly felt that we had got the bike into a pretty good area before I got injured, but missing the last part of the season was a major blow to the whole team because I think the development slowed down quite a lot.
SE: What is the potential of the package for next season and what’s your expectations?
JR: I expect to be in a much stronger position than I was in last season to challenge at the front more regularly. But we have to be realistic, we are coming from behind so we can’t set our targets too high just yet. I believe our potential is better than 2013 because already in testing I have felt some good sensations and I am more motivated than ever to turn our fortunes around!
SE: You’ve raced for Honda in BSB, WSS and WSBK – how is your relationship with the factory?
JR: My relationship with Honda Japan is pretty good, especially from my participation in the Suzuka 8 hour race, and they follow our progress quite closely. However, I actually have very little to do with HRC. Robert Watherston and Carlo Fiorani at Honda Motor Europe have been the driving force behind my career in SBK so they are probably the two guys with whom I have a strong relationship in Honda, so I have to thank them for all my opportunities.
SE: In 2012 you had the chance to step in for Casey Stoner at the Aragon and Misano MotoGPs, how was that?
JR: It was a great experience for me and I loved every minute of it. Working with such an experienced crew really helped me understand how to go faster and also taught me many things about set-up.
SE: What did you find to be the major differences between the Superbike and MotoGP machine?
JR: Tyres were the biggest difference and the investment from manufacturers is amazing.
SE: Is MotoGP still somewhere you see your future lying and if so did the opportunity to race the Production Honda come up this year?
JR: I would love the chance to ride in MotoGP again but I need to do a good job in SBK before I think about that too much.
SE: How do you view the overall talent level in World Superbikes?
JR: The level is very high and there are always quite a few race winners every season, proving that the series is competitive.
SE: And how do you view the overall health of the WSBK series at the moment?
JR: From the outside, I think the competition is very high and therefore the show is good. But I have noticed that the attendance at some rounds recently is very poor compared to before. Last season was a transition year for SBK, and there are some major changes this year, too. But I believe that in the future Dorna will take SBK to the next level in terms of entertainment and value for sponsors, fans, teams and riders.
SE: How are you spending the off-season and how do you relax away from racing?
JR: I am currently in Australia with my family preparing for the start of the season. I’ve had to work very hard recovering from my leg injury, so everyday is busy with general conditioning work and specialist rehab for my leg. To relax, I enjoy playing the odd game of golf and visiting new parts of the world.
SE: At the moment yourself, Eugene and Michael Laverty and Jack Kennedy are all racing on the world scene. It’s rare for Ireland to have so many elite riders how do you think it’s come around that so many of you are racing at the same time?
JR: It is quite rare, but a lot of talent has come out of Ireland in the past. It just so happens that there are now some guys in the world championships who have been lucky enough to have an opportunity to show their ability. I can assure you, there are plenty more talented racers in Ireland that haven’t had the opportunities that we’ve had.
SE: This year you went to the TT races, do you generally get time to spend at home during the TT festivities or are you away? Do you have any ambition to race the TT in the future?
JR: I have no ambition to race the TT seriously, but living in the Isle of Man means I now know quite a lot of the circuit, so I think I would enjoy riding it. The TT always falls between a couple of SBK races so I only get a few days there. But I love it – the atmosphere and the buzz that the racing creates is really special!