Jonathan Rea says he is “so motivated” to win back his World Superbike crown after winning the Irish Motorcyclist of the Year award for a record ninth time.
The 34-year-old surpasses the record held by the legendary Joey Dunlop, eight times winner between 1979 and 2000.
Rea finished second in the 2021 Superbike World Championship after winning the title six times in a row.
“I still feel like I’m at the peak of my career now,” Rea said.
The County Antrim rider finished second to Yamaha-rider Toprak Razgatlioglu last season behind the Turkish rider. 13 pointsbut is determined to stand out in the 2022 campaign which kicks off in Spain in April.
“The hype and background noise around Toprak and Yamaha at the moment suits us. We can use that as motivation and I’m sure we can put together a good season,” said the Kawasaki Racing Team rider.
“A few of my bogey tracks have been dropped and it’s a much more normal season, starting early in the year.
“Our bike will be at least as competitive as last year – we have new parts to try, mainly on the chassis side, electronics. I think our learnings from last year will help us.
“I still have a year left with Kawasaki and winning this season is my biggest goal, so look for another fun opportunity that will whet my appetite.
“I’m so motivated to keep riding and I don’t think the story is over whether it means staying where I am or going somewhere else.
“The fairy tale would be to end my career at Kawasaki because they gave me so much success, but fairy tales don’t always work.”
Rea’s success in recent years is evidenced by his winning Ireland’s highest honor in motorcycling for the seventh time in a row.
As the annual gala evening, supported by Adelaide, could not be staged due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Rea received the famous Joey Dunlop Trophy at his home in Belfast with the presentation broadcast at a ceremony virtual award ceremony.
“Breaking the record set by Joey Dunlop is just unreal. He was my hero growing up and to think that I have now won this award again than him is hard to believe.”
“The Dunlop and Rea families have a great connection as my grandfather was one of Joey’s first sponsors. To this day the fact that I am mentioned in the same breath as Joey Dunlop is very humble as he was one of the greatest sporting ambassadors this country has ever had.”
Kennedy and Seeley among other winners
Five other prizes were awarded during the virtual awards, including Dubliner jack kennedy being named Short-Circuit Racer of the Year on British Circuits for securing a third British Supersport Championship.
Alastair Seeley won the Short Circuit Rider of the Year award at Irish circuits for his double championship success, which included an unbeaten run in the Ulster Superbike Series.
Teenager Cameron Dawson was presented with Young Rider of the Year. He had a superb season with seven race wins before being crowned British Junior Supersport Champion.
the Ireland team consisting of Dean Dillon, Justin Reid and Mark McLernon won the Off Road Award for his historic performance at the Quadcross des Nations in France. The trio finished ahead of 14 other countries to win the prestigious event for the first time.
Hitachi KTM powered by Milwaukee won the team award for their triumph in the British MX 2 Championship. Led by team principle Roger Magee, this was the 13th victory for the Northern Ireland team in the British Championship of motocross since 2008.
Famous Irish road racing commentator George McCann was posthumously named an Athletic Services recipient. Known as the voice of Irish national road racing, he died last year of illness.