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SPOTY recognition is 'icing on the cake' for proud Rea

Jonathan Rea does not expect to win the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award but the three-time World Superbike champion would not dream of being anywhere else on Sunday evening.

The 30-year-old Northern Irishman regards it as an honour, both personally and for motorcycle racing, for him to join the cream of Britain's sports stars at the glamorous awards ceremony at Liverpool's Echo Arena.

Although the odds on him winning are long, there is no disguising Rea's pride at being asked to rub shoulders with the country's sporting elite.

"It's very important, especially in motorcycle racing which is a niche sport," said Rea.

"It is recognition from outside of the sport from the nation as a whole. It makes me really proud to be part of it."

Having secured a hat-trick of world titles earlier this year, Rea added: "It's the icing on the cake for what's been a great season for me."

Once the SPOTY ceremony is complete Rea will turn his attention to his pre-season preparations, having set aside his usual plans in order make a rare appearance on BBC TV.

The Kawasaki Racing Team rider will target a fourth world title clear in the knowledge that could see him equal the championship record of the man regarded as the king of superbikes.

Britain's Carl Fogarty won four world superbike titles and Rea can equal that feat, as well as surpass Fogarty's race win total in the series, with the Englishman's 59 putting him five ahead of Rea's current tally, with 26 up for grabs in 2018.

Rea said: "When I am mentioned in the same breath as guys (like Fogarty) it gives me a lot of pride."

Taking Fogarty's crown as 'King of the Jungle' is something Rea is not averse to either, although he admits Masterchef rather than I'm a Celebrity would be his preference.

Asked if he would answer the call of the jungle after his racing career came to an end, Rea said: "I never say never. I think what he did (by winning) was super cool.

"He went into the jungle with a reputation as a cut-throat motorcycle racer. He showed what a great guy he is. I would probably be more of a Masterchef kind of guy as I like my cooking."

Even if he is not to the taste of most sports fans on Sunday evening, Rea is keen to make the most of a rare chance to represent the sport he loves on the national stage.

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