World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea was awarded the Royal Automobile Club’s prestigious Torrens Trophy on Thursday at the Pall Mall clubhouse in London.
The Northern Ireland rider was presented with the accolade in recognition of his achievement in becoming the first rider to win the World Superbike title in three successive years.
It is the latest in a long line of accolades for the 31-year-old, who finished as the runner-up in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year behind Sir Mo Farah in December, and was also awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
In January, he was crowned the Cornmarket Irish Motorcyclist of the Year for a third consecutive time in Belfast.
Barrie Baxter, Chairman of the Torrens Trophy Nominations Committee, said: “Aside from his remarkable talent, he’s a huge credit to our sport and is raising the profile of motorcycle racing in this country.”
Legendary commentator Murray Walker OBE said he was in awe of what Rea has achieved during his career in motorcycle racing.
“As a pathetically failed racing motorcyclist I’d give my eye teeth to have achieved what Jonathan has achieved,” he said.
“To be World Champion in something as demanding as the World Superbike Championship is very, very special but to do it three times in succession is quite incredible. Hats off to Kawasaki too. A superlative partnership.”
Rea has been on the podium 112 times during his World Superbike career. Last season he won 16 of 26 World Superbike races, making history for the most points secured in a single season, with 556.
This surpassed Colin Edwards’ points record from 2002 and Rea is now only one title short of Carl Fogarty’s record of World Superbike championships.
He joins an illustrious list of competitors that have won the trophy, including Cal Crutchlow, Ian Hutchinson, Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne, James Toseland and Tom Sykes.
Former two-time World Superbike champion and 2008 Torrens recipient Toseland said: “His level of consistency, dedication and focus is unheard of.
“I’m sure that he can equal Carl Fogarty’s record of four titles this year. He’s definitely up there as one of the greatest Superbike riders, without question.”