JONATHAN Rea’s ride to seventh place at the Aragon MotoGP last weekend was confirmed as his last outing for the Repsol Honda team this season.
The 25-year-old replaced reigning world champion Casey Stoner at the Misano and Aragon rounds, but the Australian star will be reunited with his RC213V for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi next weekend after recovering from an ankle injury.
Ulsterman Rea will now ride in his final race of the season on Sunday as the World Superbike Championship reaches a conclusion at Magny-Cours in France.
Rea, who recently signed a new deal that will keep him in the championship with Honda for at least another season, is currently fifth in the points reckoning ahead of Sunday’s two races.
He is 14 points ahead of fellow Northern Ireland competitor Eugene Laverty, who won his first race for Aprilia at the penultimate round last time out at Portimao in Portugal, edging out Rea in a dramatic final lap in race two to take the honours.
This weekend’s race represents the conclusion of a hectic season for Rea, who has been on a roller-coaster ride over the past month as he split his commitments between World Superbikes and MotoGP.
“I’m really looking forward to going to Magny-Cours this weekend and trying to finish this season off in style,” said Rea.
“We often get some variable weather at this race, with pretty cold mornings, but it would be really nice to avoid another race that’s dictated by conditions like we’ve had a few times this year, including race one at Portimao.
“It’s especially frustrating when we’ve got the bike working well like we did there,” he added.
“I really like the Magny-Cours circuit though and I hope to have a couple of good races to complete the amazing journey that I’ve been on these last few weeks.
“It’s not just the last few weeks, actually – 2012 has been an unbelievable year for me, both professionally and personally.
“I’d like to get it finished properly and then get home to recharge the batteries and get myself motivated again to start pre-season testing and prepare for 2013.”
Rea had been linked to a full-time move to MotoGP in 2013 with the Gresini Honda team, but his renewed deal in World Superbikes ensures that it will be 2014 at least before he returns to the Grand Prix paddock.
Following his ride to seventh place at Aragon on Sunday, he thanked the Repsol Honda team for its support and declared: “I hope to be back here some day.”
Laverty, meanwhile, has made no bones about his main objective to deprive Rea of fifth in the championship table.
“I’m within reach of achieving fifth overall and so that is my aim for the weekend,” he said.
“The first half of the season was disappointing but since then we’ve finished on the podium several times.
“It was a huge relief to win last time out in Portimao and it was nice to reward the team for all their hard work in turning our season around,” he added.
“Another victory would be great so let’s see what the weekend brings.”