Golden opportunity for Rea

Ballyclare's Jonathan Rea is to test and race Casey Stoner's MotoGP Honda

Ballyclare's Jonathan Rea is to test and race Casey Stoner's MotoGP Honda

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Jonathan Rea joined the Repsol Honda team for Monday’s test in Brno, and will also continue with the team for the two-day test in Aragon on September 4 and 5.

World champion Casey Stoner is awaiting ankle surgery after his crash at the Indionapolis GP and if, as expected, he is unable to return in time, Rea will replace him for the MotoGP rounds in Misano and Aragon.

After winning the Suzuka 8-hour for Honda, it is just reward for the Ballyclare rider.

Speaking at the Brno World Superbike round last weekend, the former Larne Grammar pupil said: “For me this is a great opportunity to ride one of the best bikes in the world and it is not every day you get this opportunity and I am very greatful that Honda have put some trust in me to do some testing mileage.

“I am very excited, for sure, and I am under no illusions how tough a machine it is and how tough a class it is. My target is to go there and ride around and enjoy myself and try and give some feedback. I can’t take the smile off my face right now. It is a great opportunity.”

How much, he was asked, will the experience of the 800cc Honda he tested last year in Sepang help at the Brno test?

“Quite a lot, actually, as the biggest difference for me between SBK and MotoGP is the tyres and the carbon brakes. The engine and electronic package we have here in World Superbike is quite sophisticated. Certainly, the 1000cc bike will be faster than the 800cc I rode in Sepang, but having that familiarity with the bike, I kind of know what I am letting myself in for. It’s an animal, a proper fire-breathing racing machine, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and it should be fun.

“I have always been involved in HRC projects from the start of my career with Honda. There are a lot of familiar faces I have worked with at the Suzuka 8-hour who stand in the Repsol garage, so, it’s not an unfamiliar place. Although Superbike is not their priority, it’s good that the top guys at Honda keep a keen eye on me. I’ve rode for Honda all my career and gave everything to the brand, and I feel that it is a nice little treat to get another run on the GP bike.”