Jonathan Rea takes wraps off new 2013 Pata Honda

Jonathan Rea with his Pata Honda Fireblade
Jonathan Rea with his Pata Honda Fireblade

Jonathan Rea unveiled his new Pata Honda World Superbike machine at Verona’s annual motorcycle exhibition in Italy.

The Ten Kate team has secured new title sponsorship for the 2013 season with snack group Pata, with additional backing from Tonello Energie.

Rea was joined by his new teammate in the Superbike class, British rider Leon Haslam, plus the team’s World Supersport riders, Dutchman Michael van der Mark and Lorenzo Zanetti from Italy.

Northern Ireland rider Rea missed the Adelaide Motorcycle Awards in Belfast, where he won the Short Circuit Rider of the Year accolade.

However, the 25-year-old told of his delight at receiving the recognition via a pre-recorded video message.

Rea had also been in contention for the main Irish Motorcyclist of the Year gong along with fellow World Superbike contender Eugene Laverty, but it was road racer Ryan Farquhar who collected the coveted Joey Dunlop trophy in front of a sell-out crowd.

Rea, who won the prestigious Suzuka Eight Hours race in Japan last year and filled in for the injured Casey Stoney in the Repsol Honda team at two rounds of the MotoGP World Championship, finished fifth overall in the World Superbike series last year, winning races at Assen and Silverstone.

Both Rea and Haslam will be intent on mounting a solid push for the world title this year, when the pair should reap the benefits of extra factory support from HRC in Japan.

Speaking after unveiling the new team livery in Verona, Rea said: “This is a really exciting moment. “I think the bikes and the leathers look great and we know that there are some exciting developments for the CBR for this season, so I can’t wait for it to start.”

Rea has described winning the legendary Suzuka race as “probably the biggest thing in my career so far” and it was certainly an achievement that enhanced his standing with Honda.

The Ulster rider has been loyal to the Japanese manufacturer throughout his career and was rewarded for his Suzuka feat with a chance to ride the factory Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP machine at Misano and Aragon, where Rea finished eighth and seventh respectively on his debut in the elite class.

He was linked to a possible switch to MotoGP with the satellite Gresini Honda team, but the move never materialised and Alvaro Bautista was retained for 2013.

However, Rea hasn’t given up on returning to the MotoGP paddock in the future and craves the opportunity to prove he can cut the mustard at the highest level of the sport.

Should he manage to win the World Superbike crown for Honda this season, the Isle of Man-based rider could find himself taking on Messrs Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Rossi again sooner than he thought.