WSB: Jonathan Rea crowned Irish Motorcyclist of the Year

Jonathan Rea has been named Irish Motorcyclist of the Year for an eighth time
Jonathan Rea has been named Irish Motorcyclist of the Year for an eighth time

Jonathan Rea has been named as the Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of the Year for a record breaking sixth year in a row.

It’s the eighth time that Rea has won Irish motorcycling’s top honour, which puts him level with Joey Dunlop, who was an eight-time winner between 1979 and 2000.

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Rea received the famous Joey Dunlop trophy during a virtual online awards ceremony after the annual gala evening in Belfast was unable to be staged because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is an incredible feeling,” Rea said. “I am gutted I can’t receive this trophy on the night because it’s such an amazing occasion every January when all the motorcycling industry come together under one roof. I receive so much support from the fans there and I will miss seeing them all. This is an unreal trophy which will once again take pride of place as the centrepiece in my home.

“To equal the record set by Joey Dunlop is also simply incredible. He was my hero growing up and to think I have won this award the same number of times as him is hard to believe.”

Rea was always going to be the favourite for this year’s award given that he clinched his sixth consecutive World Superbike title last season. The Kawasaki rider overcame the challenge of WSB newcomer, and 2019 British Superbike champion, Scott Redding.

His latest championship campaign included 11 race wins, six further podiums, 11 fastest laps and four pole positions. Rea is now sitting on 99 WSB race wins heading into the 2021 season and will once again be the favourite to take the title.

“I assure everyone I am planning a big assault on this new season,” Rea added. “Kawasaki have a new bike, and I am excited about that as the potential is more than the previous model. But I am under no illusions how tough it will be with new challenges whether it be a bike or a rider or both.

“We start the season later this year at Assen instead of Australia, because of coronavirus. Assen is a track I love and I hope we can start the season on a real high in April.”

Six other awards were presented during the virtual awards broadcast, with Stephen Watson and Keith Huewen interviewing the winners.

Glenn Irwin was named Short Circuit Rider of the Year and Rhys Irwin, the Young Rider of the Year for their performances in their respective British championships. Jordan Scott clinched the Off-Road award after an excellent year in the British Extreme Enduro, while the Cookstown 100 Club won the Road Race award for the safe running of their event. The County Tyrone event was the only road race in Ireland in 2020.

The 1965 50cc world champion Ralph Bryans and 29-time GP race winner Stanley Woods were both inducted into the Hall of Fame. Woods was also a 10-time Isle of Man TT race winner.

The Voluntary Bikers Group received the Services to Sport award thanks to their amazing efforts to support the local community last year. Over 200 bikers delivered food parcels, medication and Personal Protection Equipment to people in need during the pandemic.

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Josh Close

By Josh Close

Sports Reporter and fan of all things motorsport.