Newly crowned World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea says his achievement felt “unreal” after securing the 2015 title with five races to spare at Jerez.
The Kawasaki rider secured the championship with a fourth place finish in the first race of the Jerez weekend, the first time he had been off the podium all season, a result that put the crown out of the reach of nearest rival Chaz Davies.
After becoming the fifth Briton to win the WSBK crown after Carl Fogarty, Neil Hodgson, James Toseland and his own teammate Tom Sykes, Rea said the achievement was the realisation of a childhood dream.
“I started [riding] when I was six, I spent my time on the track with my father and I grew up in a racing environment, so I always dreamt of becoming World Champion,” recalled Rea.
“Now that I've gotten there, it’s amazing. When my mechanics placed the #1 on my bike, it felt so strange. I'm just very happy and grateful to have this opportunity.
“For now, it still seems unreal to me, but I am World Champion and I'm very proud. I feel relieved of a burden."
Joining Kawasaki "special"
Rea, a long-time Honda rider, joined the Kawasaki team at the start of the season in place of the MotoGP-bound Loris Baz and alongside 2013 WSBK champion Sykes.
Eight wins in the first 10 races of the season, including first time out with his new employers at Phillip Island, allowed the 28-year-old to immediately establish the upper hand over his fellow countryman.
"The most special thing was joining Kawasaki, a team that has been so successful in recent seasons, and sharing a garage with one of the strongest riders in WSBK," said Rea.
“And then showing up and winning the first race at Phillip Island… it's a feeling and a memory I will not forget any time soon.”