Six-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea has won the Irish Motorcyclist of the Year award for a record-breaking ninth time.

The Kawasaki rider’s achievement sees him surpass road racing legend Joey Dunlop, who was an eight-time winner between 1979 and 2000. 

Although Rea failed to win a seventh consecutive WorldSBK title in 2021, the 34 year-old also took home the prestigious award for a seventh year in a row. 

Despite finishing second in the WorldSBK championship for the first time as a Kawasaki rider, Rea was still at the peak of his game last season as he claimed 13 wins (his fifth highest total for an individual season), which was also the same number as world champion Toprak Razgatlioglu. 

Rea also secured the most single-season pole positions of his career (8), while breaking the 500 point barrier for a fifth time in seven years. 

After winning the award on the eve of his first WorldSBK test of 2021 at Jerez, Rea said: "This is incredible. To beat the record set by Joey Dunlop is simply unreal. He was my hero growing up and to think I have now won this award once more than him is hard to believe.

"The Dunlop and Rea families have a great connection as my grandfather was one of Joey's first sponsors. To this day for me to even be mentioned in the same breath as Joey Dunlop is very humbling, as he was one of the greatest sporting ambassadors this country has ever had."

Rea’s bid to win a seventh title will begin at MotorLand Aragon on April 8-10 which is the first of a 12 round calendar. Rea took two out of three wins during last season’s Spanish season opener.