Jonathan Rea says sealing his fifth World Superbike title at Magny-Cours came as a total shock having produced one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the series’ history.

The Kawasaki rider trialled Alvaro Bautista by 61 points after the opening four rounds of the 2019 World Superbike season having seen the Aruba.it Racing Ducati rider storm to victory in all of the opening 11 races.

But having finished as runner-up in 10 out of the 11 races in that time, Rea produced a stunning comeback to go 81 points clear of Bautista just 10 races later heading into the summer break.

The Northern Irish rider duly converted his opportunity with three wins and three second places across the Portuguese and French rounds, as his win in Race 2 at Magny-Cours coupled with Bautista’s tangle with Toprak Razgatlioglu which saw the Spaniard fail to finish was enough for him to mathematically secure the riders’ title with two rounds to spare.

But given both the unlikely circumstances of sealing the title this weekend plus the huge deficit he bridged earlier this season, Rea has been left awestruck by his own achievements.

“I can’t quite believe it. It has been an incredible year so far, and a year I have never given up, I've kept believing in myself, believing in my bike, believing in my crew and believing in my effort,” Rea said. “After the fourth race, it was so tough to keep turning up when you know that he is going to be so difficult to win, but in the mid-season, we turn things around.

“I don’t have so many words right now, because I did not expect this today. I had no idea what was going to happen.

“If I would win today, what was the point situation, but I knew when I got the sign that Bautista was out that I could mathematically have the chance. And I did it!

“Thanks to all my team, all my family and all the people who have been working with me, Kawasaki, the sponsors, all the people that made this possible. It’s a huge team effort, and I couldn't be here without them.”

As well as claiming most race wins in World Superbike history, Rea is now on top on his own with most world titles in the series after clinching his fifth crown – moving clear of Carl Fogarty’s four titles during his domination in the 1990s.

 

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