The Pata Honda racing team announced it has re-signed Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam to compete in the 2014 World Superbike Championship.
It’s been a disappointing season for both rider, thanks in large part to injuries. Rea is currently on the shelf with a fractured femur sustained in a crash at Nurburgring while Haslam also missed several rounds earlier in the season because of a broken leg. Still, the Ten Kate-run Honda factory team saw enough to want to give both riders a chance next season with a clean bill of health.
“I do not think it is a secret that both Jonathan and Leon had some other options to consider for 2014, so we are, of course, delighted that we will be working with them again. We believe that there is a great level of mutual respect between us and we know that we have two fully-motivated riders who have the potential to fight for top honors,” says Carlo Fiorani, racing operations manager for Honda Motor Europe. “It’s good that they, too, know that the Honda they ride has equal potential and that they will have a team around them to help get the results that we all want to see. For many reasons, 2013 has been a difficult year for everyone, so we all hope that, with Dorna taking the series to new levels, we can have a 2014 season that is safe and successful, both for the riders and for the whole team.”
Rea has been with the team for the last six seasons, joining the team – then-known as the Ten Kate Honda team – to race in the Supersport class in 2008. Since moving up to the WSBK class in 2009, Rea has 11 wins and 33 podiums in 116 starts. Rea has struggled this season but in three of the last four seasons he has finished in the top five in the championship.
“It’s been a big decision that I’ve thought long and hard about because there were some other options to consider. However, at the end of the day it was an easy choice because of the faith and respect that I have for the team that I’ve been with for six years and the company that I have been with my entire career,” says Rea. “I know how hard the guys work to make the Honda competitive and I know that we have the potential to fight again for more podiums and race wins and the championship next season.”
Haslam has 15 WSBK races to his credit with three wins and 28 podium finishes. His best career finish was second overall to Max Biaggi in 2010 with Suzuki. Haslam hasn’t had as much success season, his second on Honda machinery, though he did find victory riding the CBR1000RR in the 2013 Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race.
“I’m very happy to have another go at it, really! This season has been pretty non-existent with the injury and the big learning curve we’ve had with the new electronics,” says Haslam. “So I’m excited to get back to full fitness and to have good go with the bike and see if we can turn the potential into success. We’ve made some really good steps recently but that’s been combined with some bad luck this year. Hopefully, that’s all out of the way now and we can keep making progress in the last few races and over winter testing.”