Jonathan Rea: I've second World title and Joey trophy in my sights
World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea has made a flying pit stop back home in Northern Ireland to launch next year's Cornmarket Motorbike Awards, the Oscars of motorcycle racing, en route to his date with destiny in the desert this weekend.
And the 29-year-old Kawasaki rider from Ballyclare made his intentions clear to return for the January 27 event as the first rider since legend Carl Fogarty in 1999 to win two World Superbike Championships in a row.
Rea needs just two points from the final two races of the season in the desert heat of Qatar this weekend to retain his title. Effectively he just needs to stay upright, such has been hi35158814s dominance of the series again this season, but his aim will be to win again in style.
That will make him the undoubted favourite to also retain the bike awards night's most coveted prize, the Irish Motorcyclist of the Year, when the winners are revealed on January 27 in Belfast's Ramada Plaza Hotel.
Rea spoke, too, of the significance to him of winning the overall champion's iconic Joey Dunlop trophy in the shape of the legend's iconic yellow Arai helmet, first commissioned by the Enkalon Motorcycle club, founders of the awards in 1978.
Isle of Man and Spain based Rea said: "I am excited to be going to Qatar to complete what has been another memorable season, but I also can't wait to fly home again in the New Year to celebrate my successes with everyone at the awards.
"To have riders from every discipline gather under one roof makes it a unique occasion. It's amazing to see the famous names on the main trophy and I hope mine can be added once again to the roll of honour.
"My family has close links with the Dunlop name since my grandfather used to sponsor the great Joey Dunlop in the early days. Another World Championship title would just leave me with three more to go to reach Joey's amazing five wins in the 1980s.
"To have my achievements compared to Joey's is truly amazing."
Cornmarket Insurance Services are the event title sponsor in association with the Enkalon club. Managing director Sam Geddis said: "As the chequered flag comes down on another fantastic motorcycle season during which riders have yet again excelled on the world and local scenes, we are thrilled to be supporting the awards."
The awards are the longest standing individual accolades in Irish motorcycle racing and are decided by public vote, supported by an expert panel of judges chaired by former British champion Adrian Coates.
Enkalon club chairman David Weir expressed his delight at joining forces once again with event organisers, saying: "The Enkalon Trophy was first presented back in 1978 to the late, great Tom Herron, and since then there has been an illustrious roll of honour with winners like World champions Joey Dunlop and Brian Reid, as well as Phillip McCallen, Jeremy McWilliams and Robert Dunlop to name but a few."
More than a dozen awards will be presented and details of how to vote will be announced in November. In the meantime, tickets are available by e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07584058810.