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Racer Rea on fast-track to success as he celebrates double title

By Paul Lindsay

High-octane stars from the world of motorcycling jetted in to Northern Ireland yesterday from all over the globe to celebrate with our very own double World Superbike champion, Jonathan Rea.

Earlier, the Ballyclare ace, who spends his time between the Isle of Man and Australia during the racing season, was at Stormont, where Sports Minister Paul Givan hosted a reception to honour the recently crowned champion.

Before his big night celebrating with family, friends and team-mates at the five-star Culloden Hotel, Rea said: "Coming back home after winning back-to-back World Superbike Championships makes me very proud to represent Northern Ireland at the highest level.

"Motorcycling has always had rich history in this country and it is an honour for me to fly the flag knowing that I have so much support here."

Rea added: "The biggest thanks has to go to my family, who have sacrificed everything to get me here today and to my wife and kids. Thanks for going all-in to the dream with me.

"Tonight we can let our hair down amongst good friends and have some fun; then it's back to preparation for 2017, as the goal is to be the first rider to win three consecutive WSB Championships."

Attending the red carpet event at the Culloden last night, were multiple World Enduro champion David Knight, who made the trip from the Isle of Man with a clutch of Rea's close friends

Double World Supersport champion Andrew Pitt and his Italian wife Elisa flew in from Lucca in Tuscany.

Fellow Kawasaki rider and leading British Superbike star Leon Haslam made the trip with his wife Oli, and former Honda British championship star and renowned practical joker Steve Brogan was also in town with his better half Teiga.

Vauxhall International NW200 event director Mervyn Whyte attended, as did Ian Paisley Junior, MLA.

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