Belfast Telegraph

Jonathan Rea to lend his support at 2020 Belfast awards bash

 

Prize guy: Four-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea with the Irish Motorcyclist of the Year trophy
Prize guy: Four-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea with the Irish Motorcyclist of the Year trophy

By Robert Jones

World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea will be one of the star guests at next year's Irish Motorbike Awards.

The Kawasaki rider will again be the favourite to retain the event's most coveted prize, the Irish Motorcyclist of the Year, when the winners are revealed on January 17, 2020, in Belfast's Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Rea, who is in pole position to clinch a record-breaking fifth world Superbike title in a row this season is delighted to help launch the biggest night in Irish motorcycling.

"I can't wait for the awards because it's a real top-level event in Northern Ireland, and not just for motorcycling," he said.

"It's a real celebration of motorsport across the island for motocross, road racing, short-circuit racing, both international and domestic. So, I get to hang out with lots of my peers and also people from other disciplines, it is pretty cool.

"It brings all the big names in motorsport in Northern Ireland together and we can all sit in that one room and be really proud that we still keep motorcycling on the map here and fight at the world level."

Earlier this week Rea happily posed with the famous Irish Motorcyclist of the Year trophy which he has won for the past four years, before jetting off to Portugal for the next round of the World Superbike Championship.

"It's a really hard trophy to lift, the heaviest I've got, and winning another World Championship would go some way in trying to secure the trophy again. It's been so emotional the last few years when I come home to lift it and I would love to do it again," he added.

"The massive target of a fifth World Championship is in my sights. Carl Fogarty has achieved that and he was the greatest of all time in Superbike terms.

"I have already surpassed his win total which is incredible."

This season has been one of the most challenging of Rea's career to date.

He found himself trailing in the World Superbike Championship early in the year to Spaniard Alvaro Bautista who won the first 11 races, but Rea clawed himself brilliantly back into contention.

"I still can't quite believe it, to turn the points deficit from 61 into an 81-point advantage, it's certainly strange," he said.

"The most difficult part of the season was those first four rounds where we finished second and I was on my absolute riding limit.

"I started winning in Imola and we knew that certain tracks would suit us and when Alvaro started to make some mistakes we were there to capitalise. I never could have imagined being in this position going into the last four races at the beginning of the season, but we are here now and just trying to consolidate things and take things round by round.

"I will try and do three strong races in Portugal this weekend and then think about the big picture after that."

Rea hopes that his experiences of winning the World Championship for the past four years will stand him in good stead for the run in this season.

He said: "That's the advantage of being in the position because I have done it all now. I have come from behind where I got ruled out of a Championship, I've led from the beginning, and I have fought to the last round, so just from a mental point of view, that's a real positive.

"I really enjoy that when your back is against the wall you've got to come out and win.

"The last race I had was a Suzuki eight-hour race and going into the last hour we were behind and I knew I needed to get onto the bike and pull back a 15 to 20-second deficit and I broke the lap record, three laps in a row, I was able to step up. I hope that kind of mentality will shine through."

The Irish Motorcyclist of the Year is the longest standing motorcycle accolade and voted for by the public and a panel of expert judges, chaired by Adrian Coates.

"The trophy was first presented back in 1978 to Tom Heron, 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, Michael Dunlop and Robert Dunlop to name but a few," the former British Champion said.

"We introduced a popular new version of the main trophy a couple of years ago and it's fitting that it is named after Northern Ireland's most famous motorcyclist - Joey Dunlop."

In all, more than a dozen awards will be presented. The black tie event, hosted by BBC Sports presenter Stephen Watson, will welcome some of the biggest names in the sport.

Anyone wishing to purchase tickets can email tickets@bikeawards.co.uk or phone 07584058810. All details are also on Facebook and Twitter @BikeAwards.

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