Azi Farni column: Jonathan Rea looks to Moto GP
There has been a lot of excitement surrounding Jonathan Rea's debut in MotoGP - and not just from the United Kingdom.
With Honda Gresini offering the one remaining prototype seat for 2013, the next few races could determined the Northern Irishman's future.
Rea has spent his whole career on board Honda machinery, starting in 2003 with the Red Bull Honda Rookies in the British 125cc Championship and then competing in British Supersport and British Superbikes.
Jonathan Rea factfile
Date of birth: 2 February, 1987
Birthplace: Larne, Northern Ireland
Hobbies: Motocross, swimming, running
In 2007, he signed a one-year deal to race for Ten Kate in World Supersport, finishing runner-up on his debut, and then the following two years in World Superbikes, staying with the team when Castrol became a sponsor in 2011.
A 10-year career with Honda and a recent win at the Suzuka eight-hour race in July were rewarded with the chance to try his hand in MotoGP on Casey Stoner's bike following the world champion's injury.
A regular podium finisher in WSB, Rea, 25, has 10 race wins under his belt, including one in Misano where he now makes his debut with Repsol Honda. That race win will be of little use to him this weekend as he will be learning the track anew on board a completely different machine.
Coming into MotoGP at this level from World Superbikes and racing against riders who have grown up in this paddock is no mean feat and Rea will be hoping to emulate Ben Spies and Cal Crutchlow, who have both made successful moves.
The situation is far tougher for Rea as his MotoGP experience is a process of learning and unlearning.
Rea was in Russia contesting the 11th round of the WSB championship when he got the call to replace Stoner. The next day, he was riding the Honda RC213V at the Brno test.
"After that, I had four days at home then straight to Aragon for the MotoGP test," he said. "Then Nurburgring for the Superbike race, now here at Misano, then Portimao for Superbikes, Aragon for MotoGP and finishing off in Magny Cours with Superbikes.
"I haven't even gone on honeymoon yet after getting married this year."
Rea was never going to turn down Honda's offer. "I want the possibility to come to MotoGP because I think it's every young guy's dream to be in this championship," he said. "To race in the GP class would be an honour.
"My future is not in my hands right now, I have to wait and see, but I'll take things race by race and hopefully I can do a good job."
Depending on how the next races go, Rea may well be the final piece in the puzzle for the top rides in 2013.