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Honda bids farewell to a racing friend

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Last Sunday's thrilling end to the 2014 World Superbike championship season in Qatar also marked the conclusion of one of the longest and most successful racing partnerships that the series has ever seen.

After six seasons with the official Honda World Superbike team, run from the Ten Kate Racing workshops in the Netherlands – plus a year in the World Supersport championship with the same outfit – Jonathan Rea will begin the 2015 season with a new challenge.

Year one of the partnership between Rea and the Ten Kate Honda team yielded six World Supersport podiums and three race wins. When he stepped up to World Superbikes and the Honda Fireblade in 2009, Rea began a remarkable record that has seen him take at least one race victory every year.

With the culmination of the 2014 season, that win tally stands at 15, with a total of 41 podium finishes. Rea currently sits 12th in the all-time World Superbike championship win list, with all those victories having been achieved with one team on Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade.

Indeed, Rea’s entire road racing career to date has been on Honda machinery, beginning with the Red Bull Rookies programme and, in 2003 at the age of 16, competing in the British 125cc championship.

After an injury-blighted season in British Supersport in 2004, Rea progressed to the British Superbike championship in which he finished as runner-up to Honda team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari in 2007, before stepping up to the World Supersport championship with the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team.

Rea's Honda career has also taken him to the Suzuka 8Hours race in Japan, which, in 2012, he became the first British rider to win. Later that year, Rea also stood in for the injured Casey Stoner on the Repsol Honda RC213V at the Misano and Aragon MotoGP rounds.

At a recent World Superbike championship round, representatives from title partner Pata, Honda Motor Europe and the Ten Kate Racing organisation took an opportunity to acknowledge Rea’s contribution with a specially-designed montage representing his Honda career. It seemed a fitting way to thank the 27-year-old for his services to Honda and to the team, and to wish him and his family the best for the future.    

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