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Old 09-20-2015, 05:50 PM   #1
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2015 World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea talks to SR

Newly crowned 2015 World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea happily shows off his special helmet in celebration of his title that was clinched in Race One at Jerez.

In ironically what was his least successful weekend in terms of results—he was fourth twice, after having stepped on the podium in all races so far—Jonathan Rea seized his first World Superbike title at Jerez. A happy ending to a script filled with bitter pages, which enclose the life of guy from humble origins, both subdued and determined, who dug in the dirt with motocross to find gold in road racing. A familiar tale in the paddock, a narrative that repeats itself almost as the lines on track, always similar though never identical.

“It's been a long journey, filled with ups and downs,” Rea said. “The latter ones are what makes it even sweeter. I remember that, in 2002, I watched the whole battle for the title between Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss, and it inspired me. I wanted to be world champion and never doubted my ability to do it. I hope my story inspires young riders someday. You always have to follow your dreams.”

Like most champions who have worked all their life and concentrated all their efforts on achieving their goal, it hasn’t all quite sunk in yet for Rea. “It's a fantastic moment for me, though I still have to fully realize what happened. I dreamed about this ever since I was little boy riding his bike around the house, pretending to race and commentating myself (laughs). I still have to process all the emotions. It took a lot of hard work, sacrifices and dedication, both from me and my family.”

“I don't like to look to much ahead, but honestly I think I missed the boat to be (in MotoGP). I'm only 28 years old, but…After six difficult years with Honda, Rea hit the bull's eye in his first attempt with Kawasaki. “I’ve always worked with talented and dedicated people, but surely this title wouldn't have come if it wasn't for Kawasaki. We signed the contract a year ago here, so it's fitting to seize the title in the same place.”

“To win the title is the most difficult thing I've done in my career, but to confirm it will be even harder. In two weeks' time, Kawasaki will unveil the new version of the ZX-10R in Barcelona, and my motivation during the winter will be to make it an even better bike than the one I ride now. Our consistency was key this year. I stepped on the podium everywhere but here. Our goal is to keep having the most versatile bike on the grid.”

And what about the future? Does he ever think about MotoGP? “I don't like to look to much ahead, but honestly I think I missed the boat to be competitive there. I'm only 28 years old, but…it's like when you're looking for a specific type of girlfriend your whole life, go on some bad dates, and then meet a totally different one and realize she's the one you want to marry. Kawasaki is like that for me, I feel at home here.”

On his parade lap after Race One to celebrate clinching the 2015 WSBK championship, Rea wore the helmets of previous Irish racing champions Joey Dunlop (left) and Brian Reid (right).

When did he feel he had a legitimate shot at the title? “Honestly, after my first laps out on the ZX-10R. It was during the winter tests in Aragon. The bike was so stable, I had a big smile under the visor. Also, the team treated me equally with Sykes since day one, which was important and far from granted.”

On his parade lap after he clinched the title in Race One, Rea stopped to wear the replica helmets of Irish racing heroes Brian Reid and Joey Dunlop. Does he ever think of running the Isle of Man TT? “I come from a little island and road racing is big in that region. My grandfather was even involved in Dunlop's career. I just wanted to celebrate two Ulstermen who won on the world stage before me. I enjoy watching the TT as I live on the Isle of Man and I have the utmost respect for those who race it, but my career path is in WSBK.”

When asked about his family and its importance to his success, Rea replied, “Very important. My parents made a lot of sacrifices, both in terms of time and money, to help me grow as a rider. I also have two brothers and one sister who jumped on the dream together with me. Now I also have a wife and a son, and I'm really happy. I finally feel balanced."

That's something all riders yearn for. It's always difficult to preserve that elusive balance. And it appears Rea has found it at last.

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