Double WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea has been awarded the key to Phillip Island and adopted citizen status in a surprise ceremony.
Out on a training ride this morning with his cycling mates, a quick diversion to the famous Grand Prix circuit led him to Bass Coast Mayor Cr Pamela Rothfield and a starting grid surprise where he was presented with the Key to Phillip Island.
“We pulled into the circuit and I got awarded the key to Phillip Island and got some special recognition from the community which was so nice,” said Rea.
“I really consider Phillip Island my second home. My wife Tatia was born here and lived her for many years and it’s nice to come back. To double win last February here was amazing. It’s always the best round of year for me and we have it in the summer here which is incredible.
Rea already has the goal of a hat-trick three world championships in 2017 and is looking forward to racing his new model Kawasaki ZX-10RR.
“I’m looking forward to a new challenge for me, for 2017. No one has even won three championships in a row, so that’s now my target,” said Rea.
“It’s going to be tough, I mean the competition is hard but there’s no better place to start than here after winning the two races here last year and my good form here.
“It’s a target I set myself, but we have to respect our competition, there’s so many other faster guys but we just need to focus on ourselves with Kawasaki we have an incredible bike and I’ve got a lot of home support here as well so I’m looking forward to kick starting the season at Phillip Island and I really hope a lot of people come to watch.
“It’s always the race that really kick starts the year and everyone gets excited, there’s a lot of hype here. I can’t wait!”
When asked on his impressive effort at the recent Jerez test, where Rea aboard his 2017 Kawasaki topped the time sheets of not only world superbike but MotoGP riders, Rea was humble.
“Our categories are really different. I mean we race a production based bike that you can theoretically buy from a Kawasaki dealer turn into a race machine like mine, whereas the GP guys are a full prototype.
“But actually we were faster in Jerez, not slower, faster than the pole position lap time of Valentino Rossi which was incredible for me to not only to be mentioned in the same breath. These MotoGP guys are my heroes.
“But it’s a testament to how competitive the world superbike championship is and it’s no mean feat. The synergy I have now with the Kawasaki bikes now is incredible, so we were able to go pretty fast and it augurs well for 2017 and I’m quite excited.”
Rea is happy to be back in Australia and loves cycling each morning with his group of buddies.
“I love cycling and the guys here! Phillip Island is such a beautiful place. It’s quite a sleepy town and that suits me because the pace of my life is so fast during the season. Everyone is so friendly, I feel like an adopted son down here. Cycling is quite a social sport, we all go and have coffee in the local café after the rides and hangout, it’s a nice switch off for me, it also when I start my physical preparations in December for 2017 before I head back to Europe testing in January where I throw some motocross into the mix, a lot more gym work and by the time I come back here in February for round one, I’m really ready to kick start the year.”