Jonathan Rea lands BBC NI Sports Personality of the Year accolade

Jonathan Rea clinches the Northern Ireland equivalent of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award for the second time in three years

Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10RR

He was rather infamously overlooked for the nationwide prize but Jonathan Rea has triumphed in the BBC North Ireland Sports Personality of the Year Award for 2019.

The Ulsterman clinched his fifth WorldSBK Championship this season, in so doing becoming the most successful Superbike racer in history, surpassing the achievements of the great Carl Fogarty.

However, after finishing a shock second in the main BBC SPOTY prize in 2017, Rea hasn’t been shortlisted since despite his unbroken run of success following a change in the rules that saw a panel decide on six finalists to go head-to-head in a public vote.

Instead, Rea takes home the Northern Ireland equivalent of the award, the second time in three years he has been victorious.

Unlike the main award, which is voted for by the public, this award is decide by a panel of judges, including Lady Mary Peters, who was vocal about her disappointment at not seeing him nominated for the countrywide prize.

He defeated Bethany Firth and Rory McIlroy to win.

“I am thrilled to win the award again," said Rea. "It's so nice to be honoured at home in Northern Ireland and it's great for motorcycle racing to get the recognition it deserves, especially since we've so many locally talented sports men and women across a variety of different sport disciplines.

"I'm just back from Japan after catching up with all our engineers [at Kawasaki] and staff that are always in the background, but make things happen.

“The trip has given me a chance to reflect on what a year it has been. I'm truly grateful to my team, sponsors and family for being there for me every step of the way and supporting me when times were tough, especially at the start of the season.

"As for my fans? Well, I'm genuinely humbled by the loyalty they show me year after year, particularly when they travel from home to races all over the world.

"I'm looking forward to just relaxing now over the festive season and having some family time before testing in the New Year. And can I take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and prosperous 2020."