Jonathan Rea: Support from fans keeps me strong, says six-time world champion

Jonathan Rea
Rea won 11 of the 24 races held during a truncated eight-round series on his way to a sixth straight World Superbike title

Northern Ireland's Jonathan Rea has dedicated his sixth successive World Superbike title to his supporters who have backed him throughout the season.

The 33-year-old sealed his latest championship success at the Estoril circuit in Portugal on Saturday.

Rea's fans have been unable to travel to races in their usual numbers this year because of travel restrictions and races behind held behind closed doors.

"I really want to thank my supporters. They keep me strong," said Rea.

"There was zero atmosphere at the tracks because there were no spectators so you are sat on the grid with nobody in the grandstands. It's pretty silent," the Kawasaki rider told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme.

"The support I've had this year and the messages from back home have been incredible.

"I really enjoyed all the travelling support that has come from Northern Ireland over the years but although they weren't at trackside they gave me so much support through my social media channels.

"It has been a huge shame that people can't come and see us race so this one is for them."

Rea had an indifferent start to the season as a crash at the opening round at Phillip Island left him fourth in the championship standings before an enforced five-month break because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I kept focused and really worked hard during lockdown. I threw myself into training, lost a couple of kilos and was on my bicycle a lot," he explained.

"It's been such a tough year for everyone and during lockdown we never even thought we'd get a championship.

"Massive kudos go to all the organisers, tracks and local authorities that we managed to get a championship under way.

"To get it done in the end was incredible. Six championships in a row is unreal. It has been quite a journey. This year and last year has been a story of never giving up."

'Next year an even bigger challenge'

Rea will now take some time to enjoy his latest success but is already looking forward to the next challenge that awaits next year as he chases a seventh crown.

"The championship keeps stepping up but now we can start to focus on 2021 - new manufacturers are coming in and new riders.," he added.

"I'm ready to sign off and enjoy the next few weeks before turning our attention to next season.

"I'm really excited to keep working hard and next year is going to be an even bigger challenge but I'm ready for that. I'll try to improve myself and the bike and try to do it all again."

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