Rea adores his Phillip Island paradise
Reigning World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea has picked Phillip Island - his adopted home track - in Australia as the best round of the year.
The factory Kawasaki rider is currently Down Under preparing for the start of the season but will return to Europe next week for a number of Spanish tests.
"That first round for me is just the best weekend of the year and to go and do a double there in 2016, which is pretty much my home track, was amazing. My kids are half Australian and I spend a lot of time there," said the Ulsterman, whose wife Tatia is from Phillip Island just outside Melbourne.
Rea was last month awarded the 'keys to Phillip Island' honouring his association with the Victoria venue.
He was on a morning cycle ride with friends when he was stopped by a local councillor, the circuit's managing director and a number of local school children, inviting him to take an 'adopted citizen' status of the picturesque isle. The kids then hauled him onto their school bus and took him to the Phillip Island karting track where they had a gift to unveil: his very own Jonathan Rea go kart liveried in Kawasaki green and complete with race number one and his name emblazoned across the front.
"That was a massive surprise," Rea said.
"We pulled into the circuit and I got awarded the key to Phillip Island and got some special recognition from the community which was so nice.
"I really consider Phillip Island my second home as my wife was born here and lived here for many years and it's nice to come back," Rea explained.
"To double-win last February here was amazing," he added.
Rea will endeavour to claim his third consecutive World Superbike title this year with the Kawasaki Racing Team, with the opening round taking place at his beloved Phillip Island circuit from February 24 to 26.