20 September 2015
WSBK Jerez: Rea: Right now doesn’t feel real!
The new World Superbike champion reveals he has dreamed i this moment since he was seven years old, says racing new ZX10R providing motivation for 2016
Jonathan Rea has said the scale of winning his first World Superbike title has yet to sink in after he claimed the crown in the first race at Jerez.
The Northern Irishman needed just a single top-ten finish to confirm his position as the top World Superbike rider in 2015, a season which he has dominated since the second round in Thailand.
Although he failed to stand on the podium after each of Sunday's races, Rea was nonetheless delighted to secure “an amazing moment for my career”, while stating racing Kawasaki's new ZX10R the following season as the source of his motivation going forward.
“It's an amazing moment for me in my career,” said the 28-year old at a press conference celebrating his achievement. “I started schoolboy motorcross when I was six years old spending time at the race circuits with my father and growing up in a racing environment I always dreamed of being world champion.
“To the point where I raced round and round my house on my bicycle commentating on my racing, pretending to be world champion. I was only seven or eight years old. To be here and have this moment is incredible. It was a lot of hard work from myself, a lot of sacrifices and dedication from my family. Most of all this wouldn't have been possible without Kawasaki.
“I want to thank Guim Roda (Kawasaki team manager) and Steve Guttridge (Kawasaki Europe Racing Manager) who believed in me and gave me this opportunity. Last season here we signed a contract so it's really fitting that we lifted the world championship today. Right now it hasn't sunk in. When my mechanics were putting the #1 sticker on my bike on the slowdown lap it felt really strange. I'm just so happy and grateful for this opportunity.
“There have been many hard times too. Moments like this are even more special because of the amount of challenges I've faced with injuries, a broken wrist, and more recently in 2013 with a bad fracture of my femur at the Nurburgring.
Rea went on to reveal the epic duel title showdown between Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss at Imola was one of the factors that prompted him to challenge for advance to the world series.
“When I was watching the 2002 championship between Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss I got so much inspiration. It became my dream, I thought, “I have to do this.” Even in the tough times I never doubted my ability. We're here today and hopefully this can inspire some other young riders who are racing to never give up on their dream. I didn't. Right now it doesn't feel real but I'm world champion and I'm really proud.”
On the slowdown lap of race one, Rea made three stops to change helmets as many times. Two of those he adorned were those of the last riders from Northern Ireland to claim motorcycle world championships, Joey Dunlop and Brian Reid.
Rea said the helmets were in fact the actual models used by both Dunlop and Reid during their decorated racing careers.
“I'm very proud to come from Northern Ireland. So many fans from there came here this weekend. The T11 grandstand there was a big Northern Ireland flag. The last world champions from there were Joey Dunlop and Brian Reid in 1986.
“When I grew up Joey was an inspiration to me. My grandfather was also involved in his career. So the best moment in my career I wanted to pay respects to the two champions before me. I want to thank Brian Reid for giving me the helmet. Also the Dunlop family, namely Gary who spent a long time finding the actual helmet from 1986. It was a real honour for me to wear both of them.”
Looking ahead to 2016, Rea pointed towards Kawasaki's new ZX10R, that is to be launched in October, as a principal motivating factor ahead of his title defence.
“To win a world championship is one of the most difficult things I've done so far. But to reconfirm a world championship is going to be more difficult. I'm really excited because on October the 8th we're launching the new ZX-10R in Barcelona. This is another exciting challenge for us. I'm really excited to be part of the new bike and that will be motivation for me in the winter.
“To make that bike even better than the one we currently have. Sure, it's going to be tougher. I think we've won this championship because we've been so strong every weekend. The worst results of the season were here. Two fourth places. I think that shows the level of myself, the personnel around me and the level of the ZX-10R. I think it'll be a new challenge next year but it's exciting. That's where I'm getting my motivation from.”
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