Jonathan Rea, the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 World Superbike Champion, the winningest racer in Superbike history, is lending his considerable support to the 2019 Arenacross Tour in Belfast.
The Northern Irishman – the first rider ever to win four World Superbike titles in succession – rejuvenated motorcycle racing when he took the runners-up slot in the 2017 BBC Sports Personality of the Year. In that same year, his notable success was recognised at the highest level when he was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), in the 2017 Birthday Honours, for services to motorcycle racing.
Rea is backing the Tour’s Arenacross for Schools innovative initiative in the week leading up to the opening round at Belfast. Wednesday January 16 will see 200 primary school pupils attend an interactive field-day at The SSE Arena and adjoining W5 Science and Discovery Centre.
The purpose of the day is to take children safely through the stages of the creation of a world-class event such as Arenacross. Thousands of tons of dirt will be delivered into the venue, in readiness for the construction and production crew to work their magic in turning a pristine concert and ballroom dancing amphitheatre into a full-on dirt-filled race track.
The youngsters will discover the backroom secrets of staging an event of such magnitude. They’ll get to witness the considerable manual and technical labour involved, talk to the digger drivers, sound and light technicians, as well as meeting several racers, FMX athletes, and Arenacross supporters. Rea will speak to the assembled schoolchildren, and share insights into his aspirational journey, he’ll be joined by other Northern Irish big-hitters such as British and World motocross contenders Graeme Irwin and Martin Barr together with a bevy of local racing talent. The children and their parents will then be given the opportunity to attend the weekend’s event itself.
Rea cut his teeth in the dirt, winning the British 60cc motocross championship in 1997. He moved through the ranks of motocross, before switching to road racing in 2003. He’s massively family-orientated – married to Tatia with two sons; Jake and Tyler – which makes an event such as Arenacross, and this unique Arenacross for Schools resonate deeply with the 31-year-old.
Commenting on the boost Rea’s involvement will deliver to Areancross, ASL’s CEO, Matt Bates said; “I always remember the early days of Supercross at the (then) Odyssey Arena when in the early ‘two-thousands’ when Gordon Crockard lifted the roof by winning the event and firmly putting indoor Motocross on the map for Northern Ireland. But one of the other highlights for me was the emergence of a young rider called Jonathan Rea in the Rookie class who took the win in front of his home crowd and an endless list of today’s Grand Prix motocross winners.
“Jonathan was the real deal and I firmly believe that if he’d have chosen dirt as his career, he may well have been just as successful. It’s an honour to have him support us at Arenacross and can’t thank him enough for getting involved with our young riders and local schools project.”
Arenacross Tour will be at the SSE Belfast on Friday 18 & Saturday 19 January. Tickets are on sale now, with prices from just £12 for a child visitor on Friday evenings, and substantial discounts available for two-night tickets. Arena doors will open at 6pm, with the opening ceremony getting underway at 7.30pm.
For the latest news and to secure the best seats, or book an Arenacross Racenight VIP Experience, go to arenacrossuk.com
Pictured: Jonathan Rea caught in festive off-road action at a Magilligan MX Park practice day.
Image credit: Ian Cairns, DirtBikeIreland.com