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WSBK Rider of the Year vote: 6th

25 December 2012

6. Jonathan Rea

Nationality: British
Team: Honda
Bike: Honda CBR1000RR
Wins: 2
Podiums: 6
Championship points: 278.5
Championship position: 5th

Jonathan Rea is nothing if not loyal to Honda, the manufacturer he has been dutifully committed to throughout his career, from his British Superbike days, to World Supersport and now four seasons of World Superbike competition.

However, while some have questioned the wisdom of persisting with a bike that many feel doesn't have the measure of its key rivals, there is little doubt that Rea has found a comfortable home at Honda and - at his best - the Ulsterman showed the pace of a champion in 2012.

In some ways, this was Rea's best season of World Superbike racing, seeing off yet another team-mate in ex-MotoGP rider Hiroshi Aoyama and proving a race win challenger on a more consistent basis in 2012, even if he only topped the podium twice.

Up to the eighth round of the season at Aragon, Rea was even the closest challenger to Max Biaggi in the overall standings thanks to wins at Donington Park and Assen, plus podiums at Misano and Miller.

Though that raw speed didn't desert him over the second-half of the season, errors would creep into his game, crashes at Brno and the Nurburgring proving particularly costly, while a tumble from a big lead at Magny-Cours concluded Rea's season on a fairly sour note.

Despite this, Rea can look back at 2012 with fondness for more than his World Superbike efforts, his reputation amongst the top brass at Honda assured when he became only the second European to win the prestigious Suzuki 8 Hours endurance race in the last ten years, while his long-awaited MotoGP debut drew additional praise from HRC.

With his status within Honda at an all-time high, it is perhaps no surprise that Rea will be staying put for a fifth season of WSBK racing in 2013 and with the highly-rated Leon Haslam coming on board as his team-mate, we may finally be able to answer the perennial question: 'Has Jonathan Rea been out-performing the Honda all this timeā€¦?'

Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2011: 4th
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2010: 4th
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2009: 4th
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2008: N/A

Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2012:

7. Eugene Laverty
8. Carlos Checa
9. Loris Baz
10. Leon Camier

Do you agree the poll results? If not, why not? Leave your comments below...


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