Jonathan Rea seals fifth straight Superbikes title
Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Rea secured a record fifth straight World Superbike title with victory in race two at Magny Cours.
Rea’s second place in the Superpole Race earlier on Sunday left him needing to win race two and see nearest rival Alvaro Bautista finish lower than 11th place to clinch the title with two rounds to spare.
Bautista crashed out in the early stages following a collision with Toprak Razgatlioglu and Rea came out on top in a thrilling battle with Michael Van Der Mark to continue his dominance of the sport.
The 32-year-old Kawasaki rider told Eurosport: “There are no words right now, I’m just so, so happy because this was probably the toughest season of my life, both from a mechanical and mental point of view.
“We managed to keep with it, keep believing in the project, keep believing in myself and never give up. When things looked like they were never going to happen, all those second (places) at the beginning of the year, that’s what won the championship.”
Rea, who put on a black dinner jacket and green bow tie for his victory lap, added: “I never even thought about the championship (this weekend). We had zero communication about what would happen if I won, hence this bow tie!
“I want to thank everyone, from my family, Tarsh (his wife Tatia) and the boys. That’s how much we didn’t think it was on, they’re not here. I wish they were here right now for this moment.”
Asked how he planned to celebrate, Rea added: “I’m going to Ibiza tomorrow. It’s my brother Richard’s stag party so this is a great way to go and celebrate.”
Rea has surpassed Carl Fogarty’s tally of four World Superbike titles and equals compatriot Joey Dunlop’s achievement of five consecutive Formula TT world titles between 1982 and 1986.
Bautista had won the first 11 races of the season to build a 61-point lead over Rea, but crashes at four consecutive rounds in Spain, Italy, Great Britain and the United States dealt a serious blow to the Ducati rider’s chances.