Jonathan Rea has become Northern Ireland’s first motorcycling world champion in almost 30 years after clinching the World Superbike title at Jerez in Spain on Sunday.
The 28-year-old factory Kawasaki rider only required six more championship points to secure the crown and Rea’s fourth place finish put the championship beyond doubt with race two this afternoon and two rounds still remaining in France and Qatar in October.
It was the first time Rea has finished off the podium this season after the Ballyclare man destroyed the opposition in 2015, winning 12 races and earning 20 rostrum finishes out of 21 races to assert his dominance on the ZX-10R in a dream maiden season for Kawasaki.
Rea is the first world motorcycling champion from Northern Ireland since Joey Dunlop and Brian Reid won the Formula 1 and Formula 2 titles respectively in 1986.
During his celebrations, he paid a special tribute to Reid and the late Joey Dunlop by wearing replica helmets of his fellow Ulstermen’s famous designs on his slowing down lap.
Rea’s team-mate and 2013 champion Tom Sykes won the race from Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Ducati) and Michael van der Mark on the Pata Honda.
His fourth place secured 13 points and Rea is 137 points ahead of Welsh rider Davies in second place with only a maximum of 125 points now available this season.
Rea is the fifth British rider to win the crown since World Superbikes commenced in 1988 along with Carl Fogarty, James Toseland, Neil Hodgson and Yorkshireman Sykes.