Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Rea is perfect role model for our sport, says Huewen


By Roy Harris

BT Sport MotoGP commentator Keith Huewen is full of praise for history-making three-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea, telling the Belfast Telegraph that "he is an outstanding young man and what he has achieved is unheralded in the sport".

Huewen is a former British champion and Grand Prix rider who finished second in the 350cc race at the British GP on his way to sixth place in the Championship in 1981.

It was a year earlier when riding Arnold Fletcher's Len Manchester Motorcycles 750cc Yamaha that he made a winning debut on his only ever appearance at the North West 200, holding off the challenge of John Newbold in the second Superbike race by a tyre width and setting a new track record of 125.01mph.

Continuing his appraisal of Rea, Huewen said: "Jonathan has the integrity, personality and principles which not many have in the top flight of motorcycle racing. He is from the motorcycle racing family and has a lot of goodwill from the MotoGP paddock for what he has achieved.

"I don't know the reasons why he stuck with Honda for so long in WSB, but he won on that Superbike when nobody else could and he had no right to.

"He is like another friend of mine, Niall Mackenzie, in that you can't find anything bad to say about him. He has not got carried away with his success and has a huge following at home in Northern Ireland.

"Just look how he flew straight back to Belfast to celebrate with his home fans (after winning an unprecedented third World title in a row). I love that kind of thing, the continuity in the family handed down from his grandfather and his father. I first noticed that at the Cornmarket Insurance Awards back in January, the standing ovation he got was amazing."

Huewen enjoyed his first experience of the awards evening so much that he is set to return in January.

"One thing that stood out for me about Jonathan this season was that after Chaz Davies confronted him in Parc Ferme after their coming together in qualifying, he kept his cool in a situation that could have ended in a mass brawl," he said.

"Instead he played it out like a gentleman and didn't overreact. Jonathan has that ability to inspire young people into the sport and at the same time is a family man through and through. The final part of the jigsaw is his wife Tatia, who is 100% part of his team that stretches right back to the Kawasaki factory in Japan."

On Rea's signing for Kawasaki in 2015, Huewen said: "Kawasaki must have thought Christmas had come early. He has won every Championship since then, and helped them to Manufacturers' and Team titles too.

"I know I'm in the MotoGP paddock and don't get inside knowledge from WSB, but I can tell you that throughout his career Jonathan has carried himself in a professional manner that epitomises everything that a World champion should be.

"He has his feet firmly planted on the ground and deserves every accolade that he is getting right now. He is a worthy triple World champion, something that is herculean in achieving, proven by the fact that he is the only rider ever to achieve this milestone."

Meanwhile, it has been announced by the Hillsborough Club that Glenn Irwin (PBM Be Wiser Ducati) will be back at Bishopscourt on October 20 and 21 to defend his Sunflower Trophy Race title.

Irwin is the lap record holder at Bishopscourt and, after his battle with Alastair Seeley on his way to his first Superbike win at the North West 200 back in May and securing his first BSB victory at Silverstone, he will start as firm favourite in the 40th running of the Sunflower Trophy.

Irwin said: "I don't treat this meeting lightly, I will be going out to defend my crown and put on a show. The competition looks strong with other BSB riders coming and the top local lads. It should bring a big crowd to Bishopscourt."

Belfast Telegraph

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