Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards: Special Award winners - Jonathan Rea and Kris Meeke

THERE were special awards at the 2016 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards for two extremely special sports stars - Jonathan Rea and Kris Meeke.

Rea entered last year as the World Superbike champion and he left it the same way.

The Ballyclare man displayed composure and character and a whole lot of class as he retained the World Superbike crown.

To put that achievement in perspective no rider had won back to back championships since the great Carl Fogarty in 1999.

Now Rea is in that bracket.

He dominated from the start of the season illustrating that being defending champion would not weigh heavy on his broad shoulders.

He won the opening two races and in total ended up with an outstanding nine victories to his name.

The title was clinched in October in Qatar when he finished second in the first race of the meeting to ensure that he could not be caught in the championship.

Just turned 30, Rea is now relishing the prospect of going for his third title in a row.

While Rea shines on two wheels, rally driver Kris Meeke delivers on four with 2016 a hugely important year for the dynamic Dungannon native.

In July he was in record breaking form to win Rally Finland setting a pace that was the fastest FIA World Rally Championship round in history.

Meeke's 126.60kph average established a new speed record and in finishing first the Tyrone ace became the first British driver to win the Finnish classic.

It is also worth noting that he was only the sixth non-Nordic victor in the race's 65-year history, having led virtually every step of the way in his Citroën DS 3.

A couple of months before Meeke, along with co-driver Paul Nagle, had secured the second World Rally Championship success of his career by winning the Rally of Portugal with an impressive show.

Meeke has ambitions to win more rallies in 2017.

He also has hopes of winning the Championship.