Rea on adapting to new crew: "I trust Andrew and Yamaha that it’s going to come good"

One of the big moves for the 2024 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season was Jonathan Rea’s bombshell transfer to the Pata Prometeon Yamaha squad after nine seasons racing for Kawasaki. The #65, however, didn’t take former Crew Chief Pere Riba with him to Yamaha, with Rea working with former teammate Andrew Pitt moving across the box to be his new Crew Chief. Ahead of the Pirelli Dutch Round, Rea spoke about the challenges of adapting to a new team without Riba by his side and how there is a period of adjustment when switching teams.

Rea first joined Kawasaki for the 2015 season, winning six titles between then and 2020 before a few difficult seasons in 2021, 2022 and 2023. Following those challenging campaigns, the Ulsterman opted to move to Yamaha with a seat available following Toprak Razgatlioglu’s (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) move to BMW. Speaking at the TT Circuit Assen, Rea expanded on one of the challenges of moving teams and manufacturers other than having to adapt to a new machine.

“It’s hard to answer,” he began when speaking in his media debrief. “Just getting familiar with a completely new crew, understanding how they work and them understanding how I work. It’s step by step. I really believe in everyone inside Yamaha. They’re great people, intelligent people. I had a relationship with my previous crew chief that spanned nine years. There were growing pains in that relationship as well. There were times it wasn’t great but generally, for example, if you said ‘left’, with that kind of relationship, they telepathically knew how far left.

“With a completely new crew that’s worked with different riders, it’s very hard for them to understand me without words. In the previous rounds, I spent a long time in the pit box trying to explain my feelings clearly. That’s also new for me, and that can also be a big problem; a rider talking too much as you can create more and more problems from a technical point of view. It’s just step by step. I think that situation couple with a few issues we’ve faced, and difficulties, the challenges of Phillip Island and crashes, it’s been tough to put everything together, but I do feel like it’s going to come.


One key aspect will be how crew chiefs work, with everyone having their own style to achieve the best possible result. At Kawasaki, Rea exclusively worked with Riba as his Crew Chief, leading to unprecedented success with more than 100 wins for the Japanese manufacturer and six titles. Following his move to Yamaha, the 37-year-old now has Pitt as his Crew Chief. The pair raced together but now have a different relationship as they look for success.

Expanding on the differences between the two, where Rea made sure to praise both, the #65 said: “They’re more similar than you can imagine, to be honest. Both are very clever. I was going to say Andrew’s worth ethic is incredible and he’s so busy and ruthlessly competitive, always trying to find something, and he’s pushing all the crew to do their best. Andrew’s pushing the electronics department, the chassis department, to improve, but Pere was the same.

“The biggest difference is I worked with Pere for nine seasons and sometimes I didn’t have to speak. When you look at the rider market, for example, Toprak went the other way but took his crew chief, but they then have to learn another bike. Would it have been an advantage to have Pere by my side now? Not sure. Maybe from communication and understanding me, but he doesn’t understand the R1. There’s pros and cons to everything. The relationship with Andrew is really good. I trust him and trust in Yamaha that it’s going to come good. Been a difficult start, to be honest. We have to have some faith. Keep my head up and hopefully we can get back to some normality here.”

THE NEW ERA CONTINUES: can Rea get back to winning ways at Assen? Find out using the WorldSBK VideoPass!


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