Former Larne Grammar pupil Jonathan Rea is set to realise his dream of becoming World Superbike champion this weekend at Jerez, when the series returns after the long summer break.
The 28-year-old Kawasaki rider has waited a long time for this opportunity and he needs just six points to claim the title in this weekend’s eleventh-round race.
Rea could have wrapped it up at the last round in Sepang in August, as he only needed to win race two after taking victory in race one. He came mightily close, but had to settle for second behind Ducati’s Chaz Davies.
Rea only needs to finish inside the top 10 to take the title, but when the second race is over there will be a party to end all parties as the sun sets on Jerez.
The ‘Times’ caught up with the champion-elect as he relaxed in Portugal prior to the biggest race meeting of his career. And as a man who is really on top of his game and within reach of the biggest prize in World Superbikes, he was relaxed and surprisingly calm about the forthcoming weekend.
“I’m really excited about Jerez as it is the first realistic chance I have had to win the title but in a way it is so surreal to be in this position with six races still to go.”
He’s is the only rider in history to have taken 20 podiums in the first 20 races, so will he be going for the win in the opening race to keep his record intact?
“The most important thing is to get the job done but the best scenario is probably win the race and let the championship take its course. In reality, I’m in a really lucky position but I can’t throw caution to the wind.”
With 12 wins already this season, don’t be surprised if the local man takes the title standing on the top step of the podium. And with six races remaining of the 2015 campaign he could easily equal or beat the all-time record of 17 wins in one season set by Doug Polen back in 1991.
What ever happens on the record front, all we want is Rea to be crowned Ulster’s first world champion since Joey Dunlop and Brian Reid, way back in 1986.
Rea, will be joined in Jerez by wife Tatia and son Jake. His whole family, along with many friends,, should also be at the Spanish race track to cheer their man on.