Northern Ireland’s motorcycling world champion Jonathan Rea MBE was awarded the Royal Automobile Club’s coveted Torrens Trophy on Thursday 29th March 2018 at the Pall Mall clubhouse for being the first rider to win three consecutive World Superbike Championships.
For Rea, it is the latest in a string of high-profile accolades, from finishing runner-up in the Sports Personality of the Year contest, just 2,957 votes behind winner Sir Mo Farah, to being awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Barrie Baxter, Chairman of the Torrens Trophy Nominations Committee, said: “It gives me great pleasure to present the 2017 Torrens Trophy to Jonathan in recognition of his outstanding achievement. Aside from his remarkable talent, he’s a huge credit to our sport and is raising the profile of motorcycle racing in this country.”
Jonathan Rea made history during 2017 when he became the first rider to win three consecutive World Superbike crowns. Son of Isle of Man TT winner Johnny Rea, the 30-year-old from Ballymena in Northern Ireland moved to Kawasaki in 2015 and has been just about unbeatable ever since. Rea has been on the podium 112 times during his World Superbike career. Last season he won 16 of 26 World Superbike races, making history for the most points secured in a single season, with an amazing 556. This surpassed Colin Edwards’ points record from 2002 and Rea is now only one title short of Carl Fogarty’s record of World Superbike Championships.
Legendary commentator Murray Walker OBE said: “As a pathetically failed racing motorcyclist I’d give my eye teeth to have achieved what Jonathan has achieved. To be World Champion in something as demanding as the World Superbike Championship is very, very special but to do it three times in succession is quite incredible. Hats off to Kawasaki too. A superlative partnership.”
Former two-times World Superbike Champion and 2008 Torrens recipient James Toseland said: “His level of consistency, dedication and focus is unheard of. I’m sure that he can equal Carl Fogarty’s record of four titles this year. He’s definitely up there as one of the greatest superbike riders, without question.”
Jonathan Rea first began racing on tarmac in 2003 following an early career in motocross. He quickly moved up the ranks from the British Superbike Championship to the world stage in 2008, finishing as the World Supersport runner-up. He continued his journey through to the World Superbikes and secured 15 victories with Honda between 2009 to 2014 in the prestigious FIM Superbike World Championship. In 2015 he made the transition to Kawasaki Racing Team and has never looked back. This year the 31-year-old has his sights set on breaking even more records with his ZX-10R and securing his fourth title. He will also contest this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours for the factory Kawasaki team alongside Leon Haslam and Kazuma Watanabe.
The shortlist of Torrens Trophy contenders was announced in November at Motorcycle Live, with other notable nominees including Leon Haslam and Sam Sunderland. Haslam lost out on the 2017 MCE British Superbike championship title after suffering front brake failure in the deciding race and sustaining a broken ankle, wrist and thumb. He was carried to winner Shakey Byrne to congratulate him – the act of a true sportsman and gentleman. Sunderland’s victory in the 2017 Dakar made history, being the first British rider to win the off-road endurance event since its inception in 1979.
The Club’s Torrens Trophy Nominations Committee consists of Chairman and ex-bike racer Barrie Baxter, Royal Automobile Club member Ben Cussons, well-respected motorcycle journalist Mat Oxley, former racer and commentator Steve Parrish, Club member Richard Bourne (son of motorcycle journalist Arthur Bourne, in whose memory the Trophy is awarded) and Queen of Bikers Maria Costello MBE, who has held the Guinness World Record for being the fastest woman to lap the Isle of Man TT course.
The Torrens Trophy
The Royal Automobile Club has always had a close association with the motorcycling world. The Club formed the Auto Cycle Club in 1903, which went on to become the Auto Cycle Union in 1947. The first Tourist Trophy race was held on the Isle of Man in 1905 for cars – two years before the first TT for motorcycles.
The Torrens Trophy recognises an individual or organisation considered to have made an outstanding contribution to the cause of safe and skilful motorcycling in the United Kingdom OR to have made an outstanding contribution of technical excellence to further the cause of motorcycling in the UK OR to have shown outstanding skill in international motorcycling sporting events in the United Kingdom.
The Torrens Trophy was first awarded in 1978 in memory of Arthur Bourne, a motorcycling journalist who wrote a column under the pseudonym Torrens, which is Latin for ‘stream’. Arthur Bourne was also a Vice-Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club.
Previous winners of the Torrens Trophy include:
- 2016 MotoGP racer Cal Crutchlow for being first British rider to win a premier class World Championship Motorcycle Grand Prix in 35 years.
- 2015 Eleven-time TT winner Ian Hutchinson for his outstanding determination, courage and overcoming adversity to win multiple TTs.
- 2014 Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne for becoming the first man in history to be crowned MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship on four occasions (2003, 2008, 2012 and 2014).
- 2013 Tom Sykes for being crowned the 15th World Superbike Champion, the fourth from Great Britain and only the second rider to win for Kawasaki in the series for 20 years.
- 2008 World Superbike Champion James Toseland was awarded the Trophy for his immense contribution to raising the profile of motor cycle racing in this country.
- 1998 Ian Kerr of the Metropolitan Police for 20-years of tireless work in promoting safe and responsible motorcycling.
- 1989 BMW in recognition for their contribution to motor cycle safety through their development of their anti-lock braking system.
- 1981 Dave Taylor MBE for his vast contribution to motorcycle road safety.
- 1980 Transport and Road Laboratory.
- 1979 Lieutenant-Colonel Fredrick Lovegrove OBE.
The Royal Automobile Club
The Royal Automobile Club was founded in 1897 and its distinguished history mirrors that of motoring itself. In 1907, the Club was awarded its Royal title by King Edward VII, sealing the Club’s status as Britain’s oldest and most influential motoring organisation.
The Club’s early years were focused on promoting the motor car and its place in society, which developed into motoring events such as the 1000 Mile Trial, first held in 1900. In 1905, the Club held the first Tourist Trophy, which remains the oldest continuously competed for motorsport event. The Club promoted the first pre-war and post-war Grands Prix, at Brooklands in 1926 and Silverstone in 1948 respectively, whilst continuing to campaign for the rights of the motorist, including introducing the first driving licences.
Today, the Club continues to develop and support automobilism through representation on the Motor Sport Association (MSA), Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and RAC Foundation, while continuing to promote its own motoring events, such as the free-to-attend Regent Street Motor Show and the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, which are two of the highlights of the Club’s London Motor Week, which, this year, runs from Monday 29 October to Sunday 4 November 2018.
The Royal Automobile Club also awards a series of historic trophies and medals celebrating motoring achievements. These include the Segrave Trophy, the Tourist Trophy, the Simms Medal, the Dewar Trophy, the Torrens Trophy and the Diamond Jubilee Trophy.