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?

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...


Because everyone outside of G.B. know's he didn't do anything until he got on the best bike w/ the best team behind him. It's exactly why Rea won't leave Kawasaki, because he know's the house of cards will crumble. Honda, Yamaha or Ducati could offer him the largest contract in the history of motorcycle racing, and he'd never leave, because his "domination" would come to a swift end. He's just like Fogarty who fell flat on his face when he left Ducati and ended up crawling back to them when he realized his talent didn't match his mouth.

Gotoneyet: What utter nonesense, I seem to remember he did pretty well on an uncompetitive Honda. But the real hole in your contention is that if the Kawasaki is so superior why doesn't it regularly occupy the first three positions in the races? Presumably you believe Rea's bike is a rather 'better' than any of the other Kawasakis.

When Sykes was on it, they regularly finished 1-2, Guess that's a fluke, right? Sykes also won the championship with it before Rea ever rode it. I suppose that's another fluke. When Toprak was on a non factory Kawasaki he was consistently up front fighting for podiums & wins! Simple fact is, that Kawasaki hasn't had a good 2nd factory rider since Sykes left, which is why he's the only factory Kawasaki rider up front.
Rea would have cried if Toprak got a factory seat next to him, so he's now on an inconsistent Yamaha. Put Rea on any other bike, and he's just another guy. Maybe he wins some races, but there would be NO domination and no more championships. Period.

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