When Jonathan Rea stood at the side of the stage to talk to the media after the official presentation as a new Kawasaki Racing Team recruit in 2015 he had an inkling he was on the edge of something special. “It is a new bike for me and I am feeling the pressure but if I can get the right feeling then I think I can do the job…” Perhaps not even the Northern Irishman could have imagined the subsequent three-year trail of success – utter domination in fact with 66 podium finishes and 35 wins - that would follow. To the extent that the former #65 is now a record-breaking three times FIM WorldSBK World Champion after claiming first race victory at Magny Cours in France today, the eleventh fixture of thirteen in the 2017 series.
Rea’s milestone day actually started in the gravel after a slip in the morning rain. It was an edgy launch to his bid for history but the thirty year old prevailed in the race (and when it counted) to start a third consecutive coronation with a chequered flag and a career half ton: it was a Saturday for the statistics.
“I have no words right now; I have sacrificed so much in my life, as have my parents and everyone involved in helping me get me to this level,” Rea managed to utter to journalists and through Kawasaki. “To win it the championship the first time, the second time and then go three times in a row – I cannot compute my feelings right now. My thanks to all the team, every single member of the team, and everyone from Kawasaki back in Japan. Most of all I want to thank my wife and kids who sacrifice so much. To win this race was special. Winning a race to win the championship is not something I have done before, so I was important for me to do that. I also scored my 50th WorldSBK race win in WorldSBK as well.”
Rea has painted 2017 WorldSBK green again. He won 12 times from 21 races and missed the rostrum only once, through a mechanical fault that caused a crash and DNF at Donington Park. Johnny, wife Tatia and their two young boys and the whole Barcelona-based Kawasaki crew were able to celebrate two rounds before the culmination of the competition and with five sprints still to go. #1 again and there are fewer more formidable forces in road racing at this current time.