Jonathan Rea refused to ride next to Eugene Laverty in Kawasaki. This is not a leak; the news came from sources very close to the Irish rider. Apparently, Rea didn’t like the pressure that the World Champion placed on the team, and he made a sarcastic remark in Misano during the after-race interviews: “I know Laverty could decide to ride with Aprilia in the British SBK in 2019, and that would be really damaging to the World Championship”. But this is not true. Eugene wants to stay in the World Championship, he just wants to ride with a winning bike and team. Jonathan Rea will be riding next to Leon Haslam, and you can see them both smiling on a front-page picture while taking a break from the 8h of Suzuka’s tests. The race will take place on July 29th, and they will be riding Ninjas: an appetizer for the 2019 World Championship.
A NICE GUY? – Jonathan Rea has been playing the good guy for years. He is always smiling, never said a word that was out of place, always available to take a selfie with his fans. But lately, he started showing his dark side and some people from the paddock can’t stand him already. Inevitably, Tom Sykes is one of them. And you can easily tell why: the Lumberjack decided to ride a Kawasaki when nobody else wanted to, back in 2010. In just a couple of years, he took his bike all the way up to the World Championship, losing by a whisker to Max Biaggi, but hitting the target in 2013. Jonathan got into the picture in 2015, unwanted and leaving the older forerunner behind. The two couldn’t stand each other from the very beginning, but now that Sykes is ready to leave they have both become more careless. They hit each other in Brno: Rea fell and lost a potential victory, and to add insult to injury Sykes’ mocking applause was broadcast worldwide. This was the tip of the iceberg after years of mean jokes and rudeness on track. A burning rivalry that both riders were forced to hide by their firm. “If Haslam comes, we will finally have a normal rider in the pit”, said Jonathan in Misano. The boundary between a jock and an insult has never been so ephemeral.
AN ALTERNATIVE – The Rea-Laverty pairing would have been an atomic bomb. “Leo Haslam will be Rea’s manservant, and he certainly won’t stand in his way. Jonathan Rea will keep on winning the easy way and will lose all interest in the World Championship”, some well-informed sources said. We’ll see. Our main doubt now is: if the wins-it-all rider considered Eugene Laverty so talented he didn’t even want him on his team, what are the other firms trying to beat Kawasaki waiting to hire him?