MOTORCYCLING: Jonathan Rea runner-up in BBC Sports Personality of the Year

Jonathan Rea clinched his third straight World Superbike title at Magny-Cours in France.
Jonathan Rea clinched his third straight World Superbike title at Magny-Cours in France.

Three-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea was voted as the runner-up in the 2017 BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday night at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

The 30-year-old has dominated the championship since he moved to Kawasaki in 2015 and this year he broke American Colin Edwards’ 15-year-old points record en-route to title number three, winning 16 races to amass 556 points.

Northern Ireland's Jonathan Rea dominated the 2017 World Superbike Championship with 16 victories.

Northern Ireland's Jonathan Rea dominated the 2017 World Superbike Championship with 16 victories.

The main award was won by athlete Sir Mo Farah, with para-athlete Jonnie Peacock in third.

Double World Superbike champion James Toseland was the last motorcycling nominee in 2007, finishing fourth overall, while the great Barry Sheene was third in the wake of his second 500cc GP title in 1977.

Rea, who made a spectacular entrance on a Kawasaki motorcycle as he made his way to the stage, was only 3,000 votes behind winner Farah.

He told BBC 5 Live: “I was surprised, big time! Really shocked. Obviously with social media nowadays I could see the betting polls and was hoping for top five, maybe secretly hoping for third.

“When third place was announced, I was like ‘OK, that’s that at least I’ve had a good time’ but when they read my name out for second I was so shocked.

“It means so much because it’s a public vote, I’m so humbled. Thank you everybody so much. I grew up around bikes, it was normal to me so I was never going to do anything else. I’m grateful to each and every individual who helped along the way, there have been a lot of injuries and setbacks but it’s all been worth it,” he added.

“The road to where I am was difficult. I’ve had doctors telling me I’d broken my femur and I’d never ride again. Being here tonight and finishing second in this award for my sport, for myself and for my country is incredible. I’m so happy.”

Rea has been busier than ever since the season concluded in Qatar in October, fulfilling countless media and sponsor commitments, not to mention taking time out from winter testing to attend Buckingham Palace last month, where he received the MBE from Prince William.

He is due to fly to Australia on Monday to spend Christmas with his wife Tatia and sons Jake and Tyler, before resuming pre-season testing in Spain in January.

Rea will return to Northern Ireland for the Cornmarket Motorbike Awards on Friday, January 26, when he is a massive favourite to retain the Joey Dunlop trophy as the Irish Motorcyclist of the Year for the third successive season.