Jonathan Rea rejects Pramac Ducati to stay in WSB

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Jonathan Rea turned down an 11th hour bid to join Cal Crutchlow on a Ducati Desmosedici in MotoGP next season to clinch an extended deal with the Pata Honda squad in World Superbikes.

MCN revealed last weekend during the Motorland Aragon MotoGP round that Rea was locked in talks with Ducati about a switch to join its satellite Pramac-backed squad.

But as had been widely expected, the 26-year-old’s new deal with the Pata Honda WSB squad was confirmed today (Tuesday) and he will remain with current teammate Leon Haslam.

Initial talks with Ducati were for Rea to ride a factory-backed Panigale in the 2014 WSB series. But the focus then turned to a ride in the Pramac Ducati squad with Andrea Iannone, which is the clearest signal yet that injury-hit Ben Spies will not be in MotoGP next season.

Spies has a contract directly with Ducati for 2014 and Bologna factory insiders confirmed to MCN in Spain last weekend that the prospect of the Texan being moved to a Panigale ride in WSB had been discussed.

In an exclusive interview with this week’s MCN, Rea, who is currently recovering from a broken femur he suffered in the recent German WSB round, he told MCN: “I had a lot of discussions with Ducati and initially it was for World Superbikes where they were looking for a number one rider. I wasn’t exactly sure about that because of the track record with the Panigale. I was really honoured that it was so serious but when we put all the options on the table and I was getting close to a deal at the 11th hour the MotoGP thing came up but there were too many unknowns about which type of bike it is going to be.”

Not only did Ducati’s dismal results in MotoGP play on new father Rea’s mind, but he opted to sign a new deal to ride a Honda CBR1000RR because he feels he has unfinished business with the Ten Kate project he has been involved in full-time since 2009.

Rea added: “I feel like I’ve got unfinished business with me and the whole Ten Kate project. I like the fact that we started in WSB this year with brand new electronics and at the first race the throttle didn’t work the way it should and it has taken a lot of work and I am really proud to have turned that bike into a podium bike and one that won at Silverstone."

"I think to continue on that and be competitive was definitely a factor as opposed to making a jump with Ducati. Ten Kate is like a family to me and I know the bike is getting a lot better and I know they have a good development plan for next year. I didn’t want somebody else jumping on my bike and reaping the benefits of all the hard work we have put in together."

"Keeping my crew chief Chris Pike was a big factor too and I believe that not just in the package, but I can give a better account of myself than this year because we are not starting from scratch in 2014. I’m coming off a bad injury and I think it is the right time to have some continuity.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt