Ballyclare motorbike racer Jonathan Rea became the first ever rider to win four successive World Superbike (WSB) championships with his emphatic weekend victory in France.
Following his record-breaking achievement, the 31-year-old champion described himself as “a kid from Northern Ireland with a dream” who finally achieved his goal.
“I’m living the dream but I feel the best is yet to come,” he told BBC Sport.
In a Facebook message on Saturday, Rea said: “Whilst I always dreamed of being in this position I never thought it was realistic.
“It was so fitting that Guim, the team manager, allowed my dad to come and collect the team award on the podium. I got really choked up when he came up because it just reminded me of growing up in Northern Ireland and travelling all round with my parents to motocross races.
“Then getting my first pro ride in roadracing, and my parents letting go. But they have always had my back.”
As a result of this season’s success, the former Larne Grammar pupil’s number of race wins has also eclipsed the 59 achieved by legendary figure Carl Fogarty on his way to winning four championship titles between 1994 and 1999.
Although this year’s championship has not concluded, the Co Antrim racer has an unassailable points lead over nearest rival Chaz Davies.
Rea, who has won all four titles as part of the Kawasaki Racing Team,
“There are no words. I’ve worked so hard for this,” he said after victory at Magny-Cours on Saturday.
“There have been lots of ups and downs along the way.
“I wanted to make the race mine from the off and I feel incredible now. I’m living the dream but I feel the best is yet to come.
“I was just a kid from Northern Ireland with a dream but I have finally got here.”
Carl Fogarty tweeted his congratulations to the new record holder saying: “Awesome mate!!!!”
Rea replied: “Thanks mate! Now I know how you felt! #incredible”