Why aren't Jonathan Rea’s achievements being recognised more widely?

What can Jonathan Rea do to make his incredible achievements in WorldSBK receive the wider mainstream acclaim they deserve?

Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki Racing Team

In 2017, Jonathan Rea briefly became the household name he deserved to be. 

The mere fact a motorcycle racer had even been included among the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards nominees was news in itself, but finishing second of the 12 nominees was otherwise a huge win for the sport in a primetime TV slot.

Yes there may have been a Northern Irish block vote and yes the motorcycling community is famously tight-knit but 80,000 votes - just 3,000 shy of winner Mo Farah - and ahead of the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Adam Peaty and Anthony Joshua was still above and beyond expectations.

COMPARISON: Aprilia RS 660 vs Kawasaki ZX-6R

It seemed the moment had (finally and deservedly) come for Rea to transcend into mainstream media… but it hasn’t happened and it is for shame that the BBC and its panel of experts have actively overlooked him despite adding three more titles in the three years since. I mean, what more can he do?

Indeed, far be it from me to dismiss any of the final six nominees for their achievements (though Tyson Fury won one boxing match all year…) it’s difficult to fathom why a sportsman who has remained at the very top of an international game for six consecutive years is routinely ignored.

Moreover, Rea hasn’t lucked into any of his titles, while in that time he has smashed almost every WorldSBK record going. Though motorcycle racing may be a touch fringe compared to the sports that have been nominated, it doesn’t diminish the brilliance of his achievements.

Unfortunately, as expected, it was six sportspeople from six commercially wealthy sports with a big fanbase getting the nod for a TV show chasing ratings. As a comparison, Lewis Hamilton’s achievements run relatively parallel to Rea’s yet he’s (still deservedly) now odds-on favourite to take this year’s crown. 

Part of the issue is the arbitrary decision to whittle the former 12 on-the-night nominees down to six, pre-chosen by a panel of ‘experts’, which means anything other than the obvious sports like football and cricket run a greater risk of being consigned to a 1-minute pre-recorded round-up .

Ironically, it has been speculated that it was the success of an ‘unknown’ Rea that motivated the change to ensure only big names were left and there were fewer split-votes between two, say, nominated footballers.

Either way, this is unlikely to phase Rea (I’m seeing your Facebook comments being directed towards the BBC in my mind as I write this…) but really you have to wonder what more he could do to achieve perfection enough just to be recognised.

Ahh, that’s right, play football...