Monday, September 21

REA'S THE CHAMP!

Jonathan Rea - delighted to have finally taken the crown 

of Superbike Champion of the World.
With his first off-the-podium finish all year, Irishman Jonathan Rea clinched the 2015 Eni Superbike World Championship at Jerez in Spain on Sunday.
While his Kawasaki team-mate, 2013 Superbike World Champion Tom Sykes, cleared off to win the opening race at Jerez in style, Rea rode a steady race to finish fourth, and clinch the world crown with five races to go.
The first of those was just a couple of hours later and again Rea rode to a steady fourth place finish.  Ironically, Rea scored his worst two finishes in this year's championship at Jerez - and that was more than enough to clinch the title.  That underlines just how dominant a force he and the Provec team Kawasaki ZX-10R have been all year.
With Kawasaki team-mate Sykes leading then dropping back to finish fifth in the second race at Jerez, it was the first time all season a Kawasaki rider had not graced the podium at a Superbike World Championship weekend.
Still, with just four races to go and 100 points up for grabs, Kawasaki has captured the Superbike Manufacturer's Championship for the first time.  The Japanese manufacturer has already amassed 513 points, putting it 105 points ahead of Ducati, an unassailable position.
For Rea it has been a  stellar season.  Thus far he has scored 12 race wins and 20 podium finishes from 21 races. 
Rea - who hails from Northern Ireland but spends summers in Australia with his wife, former Phillip Island local Tatia Weston, and son Jake - joined the Kawasaki Racing Team at the beginning of the season and kicked off the year with a win at Phillip Island.  He has been pursuing the title since his first full world superbike campaign in 2009.

Rea high-fives son Jake and wife Tatia.
“This is an amazing moment for me in my career,” said Rea after wrapping up the title.   “There has been a lot of hard work from myself, sacrifice and dedication from my family, but most of all this championship would not be possible without Kawasaki.  I want to thank both my team manager Guim Roda, and Steve Guttridge from KME, who really believed in me and gave me this opportunity.  Right now it has not sunk in.  Moments like this are even more special because of the challenges I have faced with injuries.  When I watched the 2002 World Championship between Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss I got so much inspiration from it.  It became like, ‘I have to do this.’  So even in tough times I never doubted my ability.  Right now it still does not feel real but I am world champion and I am really proud.”
Since the inauguration of the Superbike World Championship in 1988, Rea is the third rider to win the crown on a Kawasaki motorcycle.  The first was American Scott Russell in 1993, while the next was Rea’s current team-mate Tom Sykes two decades later.  Rea has also become the fifth different World Champion in as many years (with the last five titles having been sealed by Carlos Checa, Max Biaggi, Tom Sykes and Sylvain Guintoli).
Although Rea’s raw talent has never been questioned over the past six seasons, all of which he contested on Honda machinery, it wasn’t until the 28-year-old from Ballymena switched to Kawasaki that his maximum potential could be displayed.

The Provec Kawasaki team throws Rea aloft after he clinched the 2015 Eni Superbike World Championship with five races to spare...