Ulster’s Jonathan Rea has told News Letter Sport he is set to remain in the World Superbike Championship in 2014.
The Pata Honda star had been linked to a switch to the MotoGP paddock, but the Isle of Man-based racer says he is ‘more than 90 per cent certain’ that he will continue to fight for the world crown in the Superbike division next season.
The 26-year-old, currently seventh in the points standings, said: “I can’t really say too much on anything at the minute but it looks more than 90 per cent certain now that I’ll be staying in World Superbikes.
“I can’t really talk about anything to do with next year about which manufacturer I’ll be with until everything is signed, sealed and delivered and an announcement is made.
“After that then I can talk about the why, what and when.
“I’m expecting everything to be finalised with what I’m doing next year at the weekend when everyone is at Laguna. I think that after Laguna, things will be clear and an announcement will be made.”
Italian bike sport website GPOne.com yesterday quoted Carlo Fiorani, Head of Honda Racing Europe, as saying a new deal to keep Rea at Honda was a ‘formality’.
“We have not put the signature on the contract, but we have reached an agreement and it should be just a formality,” Fiorani remarked.
Rea himself, though, wouldn’t be drawn on which manufacturer he is likely to ride for in World Superbikes next year.
He missed the previous race at Istanbul Park in Turkey after breaking his femur in a high-speed crash at the Nurburgring and is also sidelined for this weekend’s 12th round at Laguna Seca in the USA.
Rea is refusing to set a comeback date, although he hasn’t completely ruled out racing at the final round of the season at Jerez in Spain on October 20.
“I’ve still pain in my left knee but around the area of the fracture is pretty good, pretty stable. I’ve been back to some good activity in the gym and cycling on the turbo-trainer, so I’m making good progress,” said Rea, who is expecting his first child with wife Tatia.
“I’m not thinking too much about a comeback date. Obviously Jerez is the last race but I haven’t set it as a target myself. I need to play it by ear and make sure I’m pain-free first rather than rushing back to race.
“But for sure if I feel good towards the time then I’ll ride, but if not I’ll be erring on the side of caution because it’s my career that I need to look after.”
Meanwhile, the Honda TT Legends team has provided an update on the condition of Simon Andrews, who was badly hurt in a crash at the Le Mans 24 Hours event last weekend.
A statement said: “Honda TT Legends rider Simon Andrews is making the first steps to recovery.
“Simon underwent successful surgery to his leg on Sunday and had also been placed on a ventilator as a result of the damage to his lung.
“He was taken off the ventilator [on Monday evening] and is now able to breathe on his own.
“While he continues to be in some pain, Simon has been awake and chatting with his parents, who remain with him in hospital as he receives ongoing treatment for his injuries.”
The Honda TT Legends team – lying third when the accident occurred – withdrew from the race after the incident involving Andrews, with the CBR1000RR Fireblade too badly damaged to enable the team to continue.