Jonathan Rea sets his sights high for Superbike campaign
Jonathan Rea is already setting his sights high as he prepares for another shot at securing the World Superbike championship crown in 2013.
After finishing fourth in the series in 2010 and fifth in 2011, the Isle of Man-based rider from Ballyclare again ended up fifth in this year's standings after failing to find the consistency required to mount a sustained title challenge.
"I fell short of my championship aim and fifth is not where we should be, but for one reason or another things just didn't pan out the way we wanted," explained the 25-year-old.
"The highlights of my year were the race wins at Assen and in front of my home crowd at Donington, plus winning the Suzuka eight-hour race for Honda, which was probably the biggest thing of my career so far.
"I've ridden Hondas throughout my career and staying with Honda remains the best option for me as it's like being in a family.
"The Suzuka win has helped me to get more assistance for my Ten Kate World Superbike team and we will be getting more support direct from the Japanese HRC factory next year.
"That's going to make a big difference and should allow us to have a proper crack at the title.
"I've been with the same team for five years and it is being built more and more around me, it's just that we've had some bad luck and certain things have stood in our way.
"When everything is going well, we are capable of winning races and hopefully we can do a better job next year."
Rea welcomes the fact that he will be joined by fellow British rider Leon Haslam for next season's campaign.
"It'll be good to have someone else who speaks English in the garage and Leon is a strong rider who has proven in the past that he gels well with the Honda.
"I'm not sure how well he's going to do, but he's a fun guy to have around."
The former British Superbike rider describes the opportunity he was afforded to stand in for Casey Stoner in the Repsol Honda MotoGP team in September as "a childhood dream".
"Both championships are world class but, MotoGP was very different for me and it took me a while to get used to the tyres.
"I achieved two top-10 finishes but my personal highlight was beating Valentino Rossi in Aragon. Overall I did a good job and can walk away with my head held high.
"I came away from the experience as a much better rider and hopefully I will come back bigger and stronger for 2013."
The Northern Ireland racer was strongly linked with a move to one of Honda's satellite MotoGP teams in the wake of his promising seventh and eighth place finishes in the absence of the injured Stoner.
"There was an option to go there at one stage but in the end it didn't materialise.
"One of the big drawbacks of that paddock is that things can be quite political and my face didn't fit there at this time.
"I'm happy to stay in World Superbikes with Honda for the moment but my eventual goal is to go to MotoGP full-time and show what I can do there."