Rea gets young fans geared for Arenacross spectacular
Around 170 primary six pupils from four schools attended the SSE Arena yesterday to see first hand what goes into turning the ice rink and concert hall into an indoor motocross track ahead of the first rounds of the 2019 Arenacross Tour this weekend.
On hand to relate how they became involved in motocross were four-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea - who started his career in youth MX and actually won a 65cc race in the Odyssey way back in 2003 - three-time British MX champion, world 250cc MX race winner and 2001's inaugural Arenacross winner Gordon Crockard, former British MX1 champion Graeme Irwin, and Martin Barr and Glen McCormick as well as twins Cole and Robbie McCullough, who will head the local challenge both tomorrow night and Saturday.
Rea spoke to the assembled schoolchildren and gave an insight into his inspirational journey from Youth MX to becoming the most successful Superbike rider ever and what it was like to ride in the arena.
"There will be an incredible atmosphere in this place come Friday night and it is great to have an arena like the SSE to allow us to bring events of this stature to Belfast," he explained.
"The noise will be deafening with spectators so close to the action and, yes, you can hear them encouraging you as you try your utmost to win races.
"Motocross was and still is my favourite sport and I wanted to become a full-time MX rider, but it wasn't to be - although I haven't done so bad in World Superbikes.
"The message I would give to you guys and girls today is simple - if you have a dream, believe in yourself, work hard, focus on what and where you want to be and dedicate yourself to achieving your dream."
As tons and tons of dirt were being delivered to the venue and shaped into a track, an impromptu freestyle demonstration held the audience spellbound as expert freestyle riders flew through the air pulling various tricks to give people an idea of what to expect this weekend.
When the start gate drops on the first race tomorrow night, a stellar line up of top-class riders from around the world will be chomping at the bit to not just win a hefty pot of cash, but also earn the accolade of being number one on the night.
For the first time ever in Arenacross, a new format brings together 450cc Pro and 250cc Pro Lite machines in an AX Super Final with the top six from both 450cc and 250cc finals seeded into the Main event.
Local stars Martin Barr (Yamaha) and Glen McCormick (Husqvarna) will join French aces including Valentin Teillet, Charles Lefrancois, Greg Aranda and reigning AX champion Cedric Soubeyras, along with German, Portuguese, American and UK riders across two no-holds-barred, spectacular, bar banging nights action.
Originally from Lisburn, Geoff Walker is team boss of the successful SR75 Suzuki outfit and says: "We believe we have the perfect fit of riders for this Arenacross series and going 'home' to Belfast, we are excited to be going racing and putting on a top-class show with top-level riders for the fans."
Tickets are still on sale for both nights at the SSE Arena Box Office and through Ticketmaster, with Arena doors opening on both nights at 6pm.