Jonathan Rea’s outstanding 2017 season ended with another podium finish on Sunday as he took the runner-up position to athletics legend Sir Mo Farah in the BBC’s annual Sports Personality of the Year awards in Liverpool.
The three-time back-to-back superbike world champion received 80,567 calls in the public phone vote, just 2,957 less than the iconic long distance runner but way ahead of mainstream superstars like boxing champ Anthony Joshua and Formula One hero Lewis Hamilton.
The award capped a year to remember for the 30-year-old, who became the first rider in history to win three titles in a row, breaking Colin Edwards’ 15-year record for the most points scored in a season and being awarded the MBE for services to motorcycle racing.
“I was quite taken aback,” said Jonathan after the awards. “I had no ambition or expectation to be placed, so to be called out second felt incredibly strange. This is a public vote, so I need to thank every single person who picked up the phone. It means a lot for motorcycling. The last motorcyclist to be nominated (James Toseland) was 10 years ago, so to ride onto the stage on my Kawasaki and to be voted for by the public is an incredible feeling. Before we got there my wife asked me if I was nervous but I wasn’t at all – I was just happy to be there. I checked out my odds and at one stage I was surprised to find that I was fifth favourite. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that people would get behind me as much as they did.
“It’s an incredible way to cap 2017. What we did this year on the track was unbelievable and I can’t even aim for that again next year. To take 16 wins in 26 races is unheard of and I need to savour this moment. Right now, this is my time but next year it might be someone else’s, so I need to savour this moment.”
Jonathan and his family are now enjoying some R&R in Australia before testing for the 2018 Superbike World Championship resumes ahead of the opening round in Phillip Island on the weekend of 23-25 February.