Victory by less than a second at Magny Cours in France and the eleventh round of thirteen in 2019 WorldSBK meant that Jonathan Rea could give the ultimate ‘high-five’ to his all-conquering Kawasaki Racing Team.
The four-times World Champion was able to extend his streak to five courtesy of his win and the DNF for main rival Alvaro Bautista. The party started early and well ahead of races in Argentina and Qatar for the record-setting Northern Irishman.
WorldBK may have been wrapped prematurely and with more evidence of Rea’ dominance but the year started with concern. MotoGP-convert Bautista used the new Ducati V4 to devastating effect and Rea and his crew could only stare at the distant rear tyre of the red machine in the first three rounds as the Spaniard ran clear.
The championship looked already over, but Bautista made mistakes and Rea throttled his trademark consistency to the fore. In fact, since the Spanish round at Jerez the champion posted results of 2nd, 1st, 5th, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 1st to pull back Bautista’s advantage and ultimately make history.
“I am just super-happy; it has been the biggest challenge to date and we have just chipped away,” he said after celebration in France and for what was his 12th success of 2019 and the 83rd of a bar-setting career. “The beginning of the season was really tough, to be beaten the way we were. But to mentally accept the challenge and keep working as a team - also away from the track – we kept strong. We all go to each weekend looking for the opportunity and we have had lots of opportunities this year, and won a lot of races.”
“It is beyond my wildest dreams to win the title here because after four rounds I would have bitten your hand off if you told me I was going to be champion. With yesterday’s race being quite chaotic I was nervous going into today because I did not understand the points situation. The target all weekend was to try and – realistically – win it in Argentina, so we could go to Qatar with less pressure. But we got another opportunity today and I felt a little bit better with the bike compared to yesterday.”
“Massive thanks to Kawasaki, the team, my sponsors, my family, all my friends and everybody in my corner. I am the guy taking the plaudits but it is such a big team effort and I am fortunate to be in this position.”