Jonathan Rea continued his extraordinary dominance in the motorcycle world in October by winning his 6th consecutive Word Superbike titlein Portugal. The Northern Irishman continues to rewrite the World Superbike record books and is now just 1 race win away from eclipsing 100 career race wins. He is not done yet, though, and will be eyeing 2021 which will be a huge year for the Kawasaki rider.
A Tumultuous Season
It was hardly the typical success story that Rea has come accustomed to, though, largely due to the interference of COVID-19. The pandemic created an agonizing 5-month hiatus between round one in Australia and round two in Jerez and the season being shortened to 8 events as opposed to 13. Rea also had to battle against a new foe – ex-MotoGP rider Scott Redding – who pushed Rea right until the end.
Pushed to the End
It was an average start to the season with a crash in the opening round resulting in a 19-point deficit, but the enforced break helped him to regather and he went on to win 5 consecutive Superpole sprint races. It was only Redding that would have been able to overcome the deficit heading into the final weekend, but Redding was forced to retire with technical difficulties paving the way for yet another title for Rea. Despite this, Redding enjoyed a fantastic debut season with 5 wins and it marks the start of what should be a thrilling rivalry moving forward.
Achieving Legendary Status
The latest addition to Rea’s trophy cabinet have many now stating that he can justifiably take his place among the pantheon of NI’s all-time sporting heroes, including comparisons to the legendary motorcycle racer Joey Dunlop who was voted Northern Ireland’s greatest ever sportsman in a Belfast Telegraph poll in 2015.
Rea, 33, has a long way to go yet and it will be fascinating to see if he can continue his dominance in years to come especially with Redding now on his tail and pushing him to new heights. It is expected that Rea will have new machinery to work with next season as Kawasaki prepare to introduce a new ZX-10R so it will be fascinating to see how he fares.
Carole Nash (of which Rea is an ambassador) recently caught up with Rea who reflected on a challenging season:
“All around us, the world was at a standstill but we were able to go racing and, luckily we were able to turn a crash in the first race of the season into a really positive year, where we were able to win a sixth world championship.”
It may not have been the typical kind of success story that Rea has come accustomed to, but it is a special type of victory and yet another incredible chapter in the Northern Irishman’s illustrious career so far.