Jonathan Rea has described his runner-up spot in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award as a dream come true having been thrilled just for the nomination nod.

The triple World Superbike champion shocked bookmakers by taking second place in the public vote, losing out to Olympic and World champion athlete Sir Mo Farah by just under 3,000 votes (83,524 to 80,567). Rea beat favourites Anthony Joshua and Lewis Hamilton in the vote to become the best-placed motorcycle racer since John Surtees won the award in 1959.

Speaking to the BBC after the announcement, Rea was stunned by the public vote and feels the runner-up nod caps a phenomenal year having become the first rider in history to seal three consecutive World Superbike titles.

“I’m quite taken back to be honest as I had no ambition or target to be even placed in the awards so to be called out not third but second was incredibly strange and a big surprise,” Rea said. “This is a public vote so I need to thank each and every person who lifted the phone. There is going to be some phone bill in our little country tonight!

“It means a lot to do this for motorcycling as the last nomination was 10 years ago so to come back and make an entrance on my Kawasaki race bike and to be voted for by the public is incredible.

“I was just happy to be here and all the talk leading up to the event plus the support on social media. I never in my wildest dreams believed that people would get behind me that much. It is an incredible way to cap 2017 and it is a dream come true to win three world titles on the bounce and to cap it off with this before focusing on 2018 is incredible.”

Rea became the first motorcycle racer nominated since James Toseland made the list in 2007 for his World Superbike title triumph and emulated the two-time champion by riding his Kawasaki ZX-10RR on to the stage at Liverpool’s Echo arena. The Northern Irish rider is eager to relish in the moment before switching focus to an unprecedented fourth World Superbike title in a row.

“I need to savour this moment but right now it is my time and next year it could be someone else and I could face so many difficult moments,” he said. “2017 has been incredibly kind to be – it must be odd numbers – 2013 with birth of my son Jake, 2015 my first world title and the birth of Tyler and now 2017. It’s beyond my wildest dreams.

“At one point on the odds I was fifth favourite to win so I thought ‘no way, this is awesome’, so to be on the podium is incredible. The big names that are on the list but behind me in the public vote is amazing – those guys are my heroes like Chris Froome and Lewis Hamilton. Obviously, whatever I’m doing is the right way so thank you to everyone who voted for me to make my dream come true.”

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Just an awesome guy and fierce racer.  He belongs in GP

I'll second that.  If he wins a 4th consecutive title and there's little reason to think he won't, I hope he's placed well into the MotoGP field.  He's deceptively fast and smart about racing.  Teams should be scouting him as a prospect.

Yes guys but his age will hinder him I think.

Possibly stop the chances of him getting a works bike.