Belfast Telegraph

Watch: We were friends with benefits - Jonathan Rea picks his favourite story from his new book

It's a tale of his rise to the very top of the world. Jonathan Rea has gone from Ballyclare to become the most successful rider in World Superbike history, but still his favourite story from his new book isn't really about racing at all.

'Dream. Believe. Achieve.' It's that attitude that has brought Rea all of his racing success but it's also made his dreams come true off the track as he recalls his journey from racing rivals to lifelong partners with his now wife Tatia.

Understandably, the 31-year-old's eyes sparkle when he's discussing his fourth consecutive World Championship success but that's nothing compared to how they dance when Rea talks about his family; Tatia and his two sons Jake (5) and Tyler (3).

"I like the story of how me and my wife got together," he beamed, when asked about the book's best story. "It was pretty good. She worked with a rival team and she just became my friend. She never wanted to define or put a title on our relationship.

"So we were kind of friends with benefits for a long time and then we drew a line in the sand and we were boyfriend and girlfriend. The weekend we decided that, I won my first ever World Superbike race. Two big results in one weekend."

Tatia was working for Rea's current team Kawasaki but back then, he was on Honda's books. And he admits that got a little bit awkward.

"We had to be careful on a Monday morning after a race," he smiles. "It looked a bit awkward, the Kawasaki team co-ordinator leaving my motor-home.

Jonathan with his wife Tatia and their boys Tyler and Jack

"It's been pretty cool. It's been a perfect story, getting together and my first race win. What we've achieved together has been insane. We've won four championships, got married in 2013, had two amazing little boys. It's been amazing.

"Before I found a girlfriend, and then my wife, I found a best friend. Tatia is my rock. It means so much to me to have her support and encouragement. It is not easy trying to bring up two kids and travel the world at the same time.

"I love them all to bits and want them to be with me as much as possible. If I was doing this all by myself, it would be a lonely world. With Jake at school now, we will have to be more selective about which races they travel to but I think us all moving back to Northern Ireland is helping us strike that balance of me being away and having family time together."

Family to the fore: Jonathan Rea at Magny Cours last weekend with wife Tatia and sons Jake and Tyler

It's all part of the story that captivated voters in last year's BBC Sports Personality of Year awards as Rea was beaten into second spot by only Mo Farah.

And it's all available to read in that new book. You can even get your copy signed by the man himself this weekend. He'll be at Easons in Coleraine from 11.30am this Saturday (October 6) and at Easons in Belfast from 3.30pm.

"It was cool to go back and delve into my childhood and reconnect with all the memories," he said. "Whilst I had a timeline in my brain, I was kind of putting myself back there and describing the feelings. I was trying to be as open and honest about my account to the top. All the trials and tribulations, the ups, the downs, the injuries and all the challenges I faced."

Jonathan Rea's new autobiography is on sale tomorrow (October 4).

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