Will this be the year Jonathan Rea wins the BBC Sports Personality of the Year?

After a shock second in 2017, Jonathan Rea will hope a sixth WorldSBK title will land him another shot at the 2020 BBC Sports Personality of the Year prize

It’s that time of year again and that means we can expect to get this year’s shortlist for the 2020 BBC Sports Personality of the Year any day now where Jonathan Rea will be hoping he’s included on the back of his sixth WorldSBK Championship three years after finishing a shock second overall in 2017.

The Ulsterman brought superbike racing back to the forefront of primetime television that year by not only earning the chance to feature among 12 other British sporting stars, but going on to finish second following a public televote that yielded 80,000 votes and left him only 3,000 shy of an unexpected victory.

However, despite winning the WorldSBK title again in 2018 and in 2019 - the lattermost fifth consecutive title making him a WorldSBK record-breaker - Rea has failed to make the shortlist, which is voted down from a longlist by a panel of experts.

Kawasaki 650 Ninja REVIEW

This coincided with a change in format, which whittled the original shortlist voted for on the night from 12 to six

Nonetheless, Rea might be feeling more bullish about his chances this time in a year that has seen all sports disrupted by the COVID-109 crisis. Indeed, with the Olympics postponed to 2021 and blue riband international events cancelled, motorsport as a whole managed to string together a relatively full campaign, albeit shortened.

Rea testing the 2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR

As such, Rea’s sixth WorldSBK title will surely make him a contender on the night where, admittedly, he does benefit from the Northern Irish/Motorcycle racing fan block. However, motorcycle racing hasn’t traditionally fared well when it comes to clearing the first hurdle of impressing the panellists, who have been accused of prioritising more primetime ‘terrestrial’ sports shown on the BBC, such as football and tennis.

Looking at the odds right now, Rea finds himself on the cusp of the final six in a male-dominated presumed long list. This poses a problem in the sense of needing to balance equality between men and women - it is the BBC after all.

If he was to make it through the final, that block vote would certainly do him some favours as demonstrated in 2017 but as it currently stands, he would have a hard time defeating the current odds-on favourite, newly-crowned seven-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton.


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