My SPOTY bid is icing on cake of incredible year: Jonathan Rea
Since winning a record third World Superbike Championship in succession, Jonathan Rea has been in huge demand, even at one stage taking four flights in one day.
In Belfast yesterday, prior to heading over to Liverpool for Sunday night's BBC Sports Personality of the Year programme, Rea spoke to the Belfast Telegraph about how he reacted when he found out he was a nominee for the prestigious award.
"I first of all want to thank all the people who had a hand in getting me nominated," he said.
"I was excited about being nominated with a lot of hype about me being on the nominees list.
"It is important for motorcycle racing that I have been recognised, although I am now nervous about being in such exalted company, most of whom I have never met before.
"I have had invitations to this event in the past, but I was always tied up doing other things.
"Making this shortlist is one thing, to be in the top three would be entirely different.
"I know I have had loads of messages on social media, which seemed to go into overdrive wishing me all the best come Sunday," the 30-year old added.
Rea's life has been hectic for the past few months.
"My feet have barely touched the ground since winning the championship at Magny Cours," he said.
"It has basically been a whirlwind world tour.
"I was in Japan and Thailand for Kawasaki corporate events, I was back in Northern Ireland for multi-media meetings and a welcome home party, been to Buckingham Palace to receive the MBE, which was an amazing experience, then Andorra for the FIM awards evening where I received my world championship medal. It has been manic."
So just how does he cope with all that travel and the demands on his time?
"I know no different, I have been travelling from back in my schoolboy motocross days, but yes it is different nowadays being married with two young boys," he said.
"I have a very strong wife, Tatia is behind me all the way and is my rock.
"I am living in a bubble at the moment, just living the dream, and Tatia keeps my feet on the ground. Those four flights in a day actually finished in Belfast as I headed to the Giants Causeway to film part of the documentary for the BBC."
Incidentally the programme, 'Jonathan Rea - Three in a Row', airs on BBC1 NI on Monday night at 10.40pm.
Now that the dust has settled on 2017 and testing is already under way ahead of 2018, despite new regulations to curtail the revs of the winning machines in an attempt by WSB organisers to make for closer racing and better entertainment, Rea was still the fastest rider.
"I don't have the same power, and the team have had to re-design a few things, but it's actually not a complete step back. The changes suit my style and I am confident we, as a team, have worked things out to be competitive. The only grey area is if a team and rider are dominating their rev limit can be reassessed.
"I can understand the reasoning behind the new rules, but why penalise winning riders?"
Don't forget - get those fingers dialling on Sunday night when the phone number to vote for Jonathan becomes available.