The 2016 World Superbike championship gets underway in Australia this weekend but defending number one Jonathan Rea will also be keeping an eye on the Grand Prix of Qatar and the launch of MXGP.
The motocross fan (who describes himself on his Twitter profile as a ‘failed motocrosser in a road racer’s body’) recently spoke about Grand Prix at the Kawasaki Racing Team presentation in Barcelona and admitted that the resurgence of eight-time champion Tony Cairoli could be one to watch.
“It is clear that when [Tony] Cairoli is healthy then he is one of the fastest guys in the world,” the Irishman said. “He is a hard worker and he has been lucky in his career that he hasn’t had too many really hard setbacks and injuries. It is not effortless but he has quite an economical style as well.”
Commenting on the Red Bull KTM rider’s recently inked three year contract that will see #222 competing until the age of 33, Rea said: “KTM are clever to have him and after these three years he will have a career link with them. It is kinda like a Rossi situation. Nobody is asking: “is 36-37 too old?” If Antonio is still strong and still fast then he’ll ‘turn up’.”
Ultimately Rea was at a loss to cast a firm prediction for MXGP 2016, confessing that the surprising case of Romain Febvre and the calibre of rivals like Gautier Paulin and Clement Desalle means it is too tough to forecast. “Febvre blindsided everyone last year didn’t he?” he comments. “To come in as a rookie and do so well…I wouldn’t want to call it: there are so many! Gautier Paulin is another. They just have to stay healthy and Febvre proved that last year. Nobody was talking about him after two rounds but he was the smartest guy out there and made the right decisions. He deserved that championship. Like in most forms of racing the smartest guys usually tend to win.”