Jonathan Rea says the realisation of successfully defending his World Superbike title will take time to settle in after finishing second in race one at Qatar to claim the 2016 championship with a race to spare.
Knowing he only needed two points to seal back-to-back World Superbike championships after entering the final round with a 48-point lead, Rea says he went all-out to seal the 2016 title in style but ultimately couldn't match the pace of race winner Chaz Davies.
Despite this, Rea was elated to become the first rider to successfully defend the World Superbike riders' crown since Carl Fogarty in 1999 and has thanked his team for turning the new Kawasaki ZX-10R into an instant world title winner.
“It felt like a normal day where I have finished second, it will take some time to sink in,” Rea said. “This championship is 26 races and 13 race weekends and it is very easy to get lost with it but we've done an incredible job all season. In the last few races we have been able to manage a gap which was really comfortable.
“Now the job is done and the target from the beginning of the season is achieved I am just so happy and thankful to everybody in my team.
“I want to thank my whole team, my wife, my family who support me. Also a biggest thank you to Kawasaki for supporting us in the first new year of the ZX-10R so to win the first year it gives me incredible confidence for next year because I am sure the bike with a year of data will get better and better.”
Assessing the title-clinching race, Rea says he was totally focused on aiming for the win rather than riding conservatively to secure the points required but conceded he was ultimately outpaced by Davies on the Aruba.it Racing Ducati who has now claimed five straight wins.
“I felt okay in the beginning of the race and I was risking it because I knew Chaz would win the race if I didn't push,” he said. “It didn't matter if I ended up in the gravel because chances were we were going to be champions anyway so I threw caution to the wind.
“But the Ducati was too fast on the straights and I couldn't stay there, only just about hang in there and Cha was riding so good so congratulations to him. He had so much edge grip compared to be and I had to stop the bike and pick it up more to use the flat part of the tyre. We will have to play the long game tomorrow and hopefully hatch something.”