Nobody in the history of WorldSBK racing has achieved as much as Jonathan Rea, who began his global victory count with Honda and for the past four years has been world superbike’s dominant force inside the official Kawasaki Racing Team set-up.
To put his achievements into perspective, during the most recent round of the championship at Magny Cours in France he capped-off four successive world titles, scored a new all-time podium record of 131, extended his record of career race wins to 68 and won his fourth straight ‘double’. There have been 22 races so far this year and ‘JR’ has won 14 of them.
Another legend, Carl Fogarty, also has four championships but fewer race wins than Rea. Fogarty’s titles were also not secured in succession, which is the more difficult thing to do.
So how does it feel for Northern Irishman Rea to be the greatest of all time in his chosen category?
“Right now to be honest I do not have too many words,” said Rea a few hours after winning his latest title. “I am really grateful to be in this position, in a great team with a great bike and it gives me the potential every weekend to do my job. I am so thankful to my team manager Guim to put my father on the podium today. It was one of the moments in my life where I reflected and when he walked up to the podium I had flashbacks of us doing schoolboy motocross together, and the journey I have been on to get here, I have had so many incredible highs and low lows. But these last four years are like a dream. I am really proud of our achievement as a team.”
Rea’s approach to his role, as the final link in a long racing team chain to get on track each weekend, is ultra-professional. Even with his historic crown beyond doubt, it was all about the next race, and working to win that one too. He could only really celebrate his championship win a day after he completed it.
Somewhat ominously for his rivals, the 31-year-old believes that his career is still in the ascendency.
“Honestly feel that the best is yet to come,” said Jonathan. “I feel like I am learning every single day and every year we learn something as a team. Setting a level like we did last season and this season, it is impossible to stay there forever, but I have a really nice two-year plan with Kawasaki through 2019 and 2020. Of course we need to aim to do at least the same as we are doing now, and that is what motivates me.”
What always really motivates Rea is winning races, but he has done a lot of that. His current personal impetus is to beat his own record points total, and maybe his personal best tally of race wins in a season.
“Last year was a dream, the best season I ever had,” said Rea about 2017’s experience. “A points record of 556, 16 race wins, so that is the target – 556 points. We will see if we can achieve that at the end of Qatar. In life you always have to set small targets and try to be better ever year.”
Rea suggests that the existing all time season race-winning total of 17 is very difficult to surpass. But with four individual races left and 14 in the bag already, it is at least possible.
Watch the greatest of all time go for it in the final two rounds in Argentina and Qatar.