100 not out: Rea brings up a century of race victories and joins an exclusive club

Saturday, 22 May 2021 12:36 GMT

Victory at MotorLand Aragon means Jonathan Rea becomes the first rider in WorldSBK history to hit the incredible milestone

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) continues to write history and break records with every passing race, round and season. He became the first rider in MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship history to claim a century of wins with his latest victory as he secured secured his 100th WorldSBK at MotorLand Aragon. Rea joins the likes of Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi in reaching a century of victories although Rea’s have all come in one class in WorldSBK.

Agostini’s 122 career victories came across the 350cc World Championship and 500cc World Championship over an 11-year period spanning from 1965 to 1976; claiming a massive 15 titles across both classes with his 122 victories. Rossi’s victories came in a 21-year period between 1996 and 2017: the 125cc World Championship, 250cc World Championship and the 500cc World Championship/MotoGP™. Agostini, Rossi and Rea are the only riders to have hit this milestone in two-wheeled road racing world championships.

Rea’s incredible victory record started back in 2009, his first full season competing in WorldSBK, when he claimed Race 2 victory at Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” on board his Honda machine; the manufacturer he would race for between 2008 and 2014. Despite the first win coming in the middle of 2009, he was impressive on his debut at Portimao in 2008 when he secured fourth in Race 1.

Two wins in 2009 were followed in 2010 by another four including a sensational double at TT Circuit Assen as well as victories at Brno and the Nurburgring as he finished fourth in the Championship. 2011 brought two more victories for Rea, including another at Assen and his first at Imola although he did miss eight races throughout the year thanks to an injury-hit season.

2012 came and went with Rea standing on top of the rostrum another two times, including another victory at Assen where he has amassed 12 of his 100 victories. 2013 was Rea’s worst year of his career in terms of race wins, with just one to his name which came at Silverstone, but he missed the final four rounds of the Championship after suffering from a fractured femur at a crash at the Nurburgring.

His last year running Honda machinery brought four more wins as he finished a then-best third in the Championship as he picked up victories including three in a row at Assen and Imola before his final Honda win at Portimao; meaning he won 15 races with Honda. Rea switched teams and machinery for 2015 as he joined KRT, jumping on board Kawasaki machinery and it would be here Rea’s potential was realised.

Rea claimed victory in his very first race for KRT and won 11 of the first 16 races of the season across eight rounds. It would take until Laguna Seca, the ninth round of the Championship, before Rea finished outside the top two in a race as he won 14 races out of 26 in 2015; claiming his first Championship with a 132-point margin over his nearest rival. While he won five fewer races in 2016, with nine in total, his consistency was so remarkable that he scored 23 podiums out of 26.

16 further wins followed in 2017 as Rea returned to double figures for wins in a season, winning 16 out of 26 races in 2017 as he won his third consecutive title. Titles four and five followed in 2018 and 2019 with another 17 wins in 2018 and 17 in 2019; the introduction of the Tissot Superpole Race giving three races per round instead of two. Despite seven different race winners in 2020, Rea was able to once again reach double figures of race victories but unable to hit the magical century before the end of the season. It meant the wait would carry on but victory at MotorLand Aragon during the opening round of the 2021 WorldSBK season ensured the Northern Irishman would hit 100 WorldSBK race victories sooner rather than later; starting his quest for title number seven by reaching an incredible milestone.

Having scored 15 victories for Honda in seven years, Rea’s win rate increased massively when he switched to KRT as he secured 85 wins in seven years as well as six consecutive titles. Having been confirmed for 2021 and beyond with KRT, who would bet against more records falling Rea’s way in the years to come?