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Race ace Rea secures world champion crown

Jonathan Rea follows in the footsteps of the great Joey Dunlop after he clinched the World Superbike Champion title
Willis Marshall

Larne rider Jonathan Rea bridged a 30-year gap when the KRT Kawasaki rider clinched the title of World Superbike Champion after a fourth-place finish in race one at Jerez in Spain.

Not since the late Joey Dunlop was crowned in 1985 has Ireland produced a World motorcycle champion, but Rea ended that at the weekend.

Coincidently, it was Rea's grandfather who put Joey Dunlop on the road to his world titles back in 1977 when Dunlop was sponsored under the Rea Distribution banner.

Jonathan Rea's world title is a fitting tribute to both Joey Dunlop and his grandfather, Johnny Rea Snr, who kickstarted the dream and Rea also included his dad in his victory speech.

For Rea it was a dream come true: "This is the pinnacle of motorcycling. A world champion. Strangely enough today was my worst results of the season with the two fourth place finishes and yet I manage to clinch the title.

"I owe this all to my dad who is really the unsung hero in my eyes. He put so much into my early motocross years and at that stage he was racing himself.

"He never let go of the fact that he had faith in my ability to become someone good, and here I am a world champion.

"I will savour this for a very very long time. It was Joey Dunlop who was last crowned world champion in Northern Ireland and I feel very honoured to be following in his footsteps.

"It means so so much to me and thank you to all my fans who have been all over the world with me and supporting me in every race. This is for you guys," said Rea.

Yesterday's two races they were dominated by British riders. In race one it was Jonathon Rea's team-mate, Tom Sykes, who took the race win from fellow countryman Chas Davis and Holland's Mark Vd Mark.

In race two, Sykes looked to be on course for a double only for tyre trouble to force him back down the field leaving the way open for Chas Davis to take the win from Jorri Torris from Spain and Britain's Leon Haslem.

Meanwhile at Assen the British Superbike Championships continued with Australian Josh Brookes on the Milwaukee Yamaha taking another brace of race wins.

In the first of the two Superbike races, Milwaukee Yamaha rider Josh Brookes was the clear winner with the Australian a full seven seconds in front of second placed man James Ellion on the GBMoto Kawasaki with Toomebridge rider Michael Laverty taking his Tyco BMW to a fine third place finish.

In the first of the two British Supersport 600 races, Luke Stapleford took another step towards his title bid with another win on his Truimph. He was followed home by James Rispoli with Jake Dixon third.

Carrickfergus rider Glenn Irwin on the Gearlink Kawasaki finished in fifth place with Portadown's Marshal Neill was 11th.

In race two, it was an epic four-rider battle throughout the 13 laps with Luke Stapleford taking the win with Jake Dixon second and Carrickfergus rider Glenn Irwin third. In the Evo class Portadown's Marshal Neill took the win with an overall 10th place finish.

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