WorldSBK: Who could the Kawasaki Racing Team replace Jonathan Rea with?

Published on September 7, 2023
By Luke Newman

Now that it is official that Jonathan Rea will leave Kawasaki at the end of the 2023 season, who could Kawasaki sign to replace him?

Replacing the rider who has won you six World Superbike titles in the last nine years is a hard task. However, at Short Shift News we have put together a list of the riders who are realistic candidates to replace Rea in the Kawasaki Racing Team.

Adrian Huertas: (MTM Kawasaki)

Adrian Huertas is perhaps an option that not many would have expected before the Aragon WorldSBK test last week. However, the young Spaniard had a go on the Kawasaki ZX-10R at the test and impressed the KRT bosses.

Huertas currently races in the World Supersport Championship, where he sits 11th in the standings. The 20-year-old also rides a Kawasaki in the Supersport category so already has a link to the manufacturer.

After the Aragon test Guim Roda, the KRT Team Manager, said: “Adrian was good, it was interesting to see a 20-year-old’s evolution with no experience on the 1000cc bike, and the way he rode and made mistakes and the wrong approach and then correct it right away. It was nice to help him improve. We spoke with him, and it was a fun day. He could stay on the bike, he went quite fast, so we’re happy for that as well. It was a good and constructive experience.”

Xavi Vierge: (Team HRC)

Xavi Vierge is a rider who may have not been able to display his full potential in WorldSBK as of yet, the reasoning behind this is the package that he has been on. The Spanish rider moved across from Moto2 to WorldSBK for the start of the 2022 season.

Vierge hinted to his future at the Aragon test when he said: “I have some news but I can’t say.” After 50 races in WorldSBK for HRC Vierge has only stood on the podium once, but we could realistically see him on a Kawasaki in 2024.

Iker Lecuona: (Team HRC)

In the same boat as Vierge is his Team HRC team-mate, Iker Lecuona. The Spaniard has also been at Team HRC for the last two seasons after moving over from MotoGP and has also only stood on the podium once in two seasons.

With the chances of Lecuona securing a MotoGP ride looking rather slim after Johann Zarco signed for LCR Honda we believe we could see Lecuona abandon Honda altogether and make a switch to Kawasaki in 2024.

Michael Ruben Rinaldi: ( – Ducati)

Michael Ruben Rinaldi is the latest entry onto the list of riders who could join the Kawasaki Racing Team next season. Rinaldi makes this list after the decision was made by – Ducati to replace the Italian with Nicolo Bulega for the 2024 WorldSBK season.

Rinaldi has shown his talent in WorldSBK and has four race wins and 19 podiums to his name, but he has shown at Ducati that when it comes to fighting for a title he is not consistent enough. But Kawasaki may be willing to sign Rinaldi just to make sure they have a proven race winner on their machine for 2024.

Scott Redding: (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team)

Scott Redding could be on his way to ride for a third manufacturer in only his fifth year in WorldSBK. Redding has rode for Ducati and BMW but has only really had success with one of the two manufacturers.

However, in the 2020 and 2021 seasons with Ducati Redding did display that he can challenge for titles in the WorldSBK title. Redding may be Kawasaki’s best option for the 2024 season as he is a proven race winner with 12 WorldSBK wins and 40 podiums in WorldSBK in four seasons. It seems like at the moment Redding has to be the favourite to replace the six-time WorldSBK Champion.

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