Taking motorcycling to the mainstream media, WorldSBK Champion, Jonathan Rea, was among just 12 nominees for the prestigious 2017 BBC Sports personality of the year awarded on 17 December.
Making it into the top three when voting ceased, the Northern Irishman placed a highly creditable second just losing out to Sir Mo Farah the acclaimed athlete.
Now in its 63rd year, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year reflects a huge diversity of sport but it is still uncommon for motorcycling to be represented in this way – and even more uncommon for a motorcyclist to reach the podium.
With incredible support from his native Northern Irish fans and the huge numbers of those interested in motorcycling in the UK, Rea amassed 80,567 votes during the short voting period of the televised event.
Thanking his team and all of those that supported him in a momentous season where he won an unprecedented third consecutive WorldSBK title, Rea was keen to highlight his family who are with him all the way.
Jonathan later stated: “I was really shocked when my name was announced, to be honest. To come second in an awards ceremony that is voted for by the public I am just so incredibly humbled and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who voted. I am sure the phone bills in Northern Ireland will be incredibly high this Christmas time. There are so many superstars in the room, past, present and future, and so many people that didn’t make the short list that perhaps deserved to, so it’s an incredible night for sport that the nation can be proud of. Being here tonight to get this award for my sport, for myself and for my country is incredible and I am really honoured to put motorcycling in the spotlight at a national level in the UK.
This weekend is the icing on the cake of an incredible 2017 for me. It’s also a perfect place to turn the page as I head to Australia tomorrow to keep going with the winter training programme and to hopefully come back stronger in 2018.”
Always focused on the top step of any podium, Jonathan Rea can still reflect on an amazing achievement whereby the only motorcycle rider to ever win the coveted title was John Surtees in 1959 with Speedway rider Barry Briggs placing second in 1964. The most recent motorcycle contender was the late, great Barry Sheene who placed third in 1977.
“Jonathan is a fantastic ambassador for Kawasaki and for motorcycle racing generally within the world of two wheels,” commented Race Planning Manager for Kawasaki Motors Europe, Steve Guttridge.
“His appeal and desire to widen the sphere of influence of motorcycle racing has been proved by this amazing runner up award at the BBC Sports personality of the year. Everyone at Kawasaki is proud of Jonathan’s continuing achievements”.