Jonathan Rea’s World Superbike title success was celebrated during a special reception at Stormont hosted by Gordon Dunne MLA and First Minister Arlene Foster.
Rea became the fourth motorcycling world champion from Northern Ireland after winning 14 races last season to seal the title, joining Joey Dunlop, Brian Reid and Ralph Bryans in the hall of fame.
Motorsport enthusiast Gordon Dunne MLA organised the celebration and was joined by the First Minister as they congratulated the Ballyclare man on his incredible achievement.
“It was a great pleasure to meet and congratulate Jonathan on his remarkable achievement in becoming World Superbike Champion,” said Minister Foster.
“Jonathan is a fantastic ambassador for Northern Ireland in a country with such a rich motorsport heritage. I wish him well for the future as he seeks to defend his World Superbike crown in 2016.
“Northern Ireland excels in many sports right across the world. Jonathan’s success caps off what has been a wonderful few years for our local sporting heroes. It’s wonderful that Northern Ireland is now known across the world for sports stars like Jonathan.
“We are all incredibly proud of Jonathan’s achievements,” she added.
“I love hearing success stories from Northern Ireland. For a small place we have a lot of them. These people are incredibly important. They inspire the leaders and success stories of tomorrow. I trust Jonathan’s dedication and hard work will act as an inspiration to other young people.
“Regardless of whether it’s in sport, study, employment or community if people work hard and set goals, they can succeed.”
North Down DUP MLA Dunne also paid tribute to the 28-year-old Kawasaki rider, who took a break from pre-season testing in Spain to return to Northern Ireland last week, where he was crowned the 2015 Irish Motorcyclist of the Year at the Cornmarket Motorbike Awards in Belfast.
“I was delighted to be able to welcome Jonathan to Parliament Buildings to celebrate his success in 2015,” he said.
“To become World Superbike Champion in such a global series with events in as far-away places as Australia, USA, Moscow, Malaysia and Qatar at the very pinnacle of motorcycle racing is truly remarkable and shows the real class and determination of Jonathan.
“Northern Ireland continues to produce many talented motorcycle riders and having such successful events like the North West 200 on our doorstep certainly helps to fuel the passion of spectators and competitors alike,” he added.
“2016 promises to be another exciting year on the local motorcycling scene and I have no doubt that events such as the North West 200 will continue to attract many competitors and spectators from across the world.”