Antrim's Jonathan Rea wrote motorcycling history yesterday, becoming the first rider to claim five successive World Superbike titles.
The 32-year-old unexpectedly clinched the crown yesterday by winning the final race at Magny-Cours in France, with the only rider challenging him for the championship, Spain's Alvaro Bautista, crashing out on lap two of 21, leaving Rea with an unassailable 129-point lead.
An emotional Rea said afterwards: "Of the five titles this has been the toughest. People had me written off earlier in the season when I was racking up second places behind Alvaro, but all those seconds won me this championship.
"It was a real battle with Mickey van der Mark in that race, but once I had established myself at the front, I just kept telling myself to hit my markers and don't make mistakes.
"This has been a massive project with Kawasaki and there are so many people to thank for what we, as a family, have achieved. Now I'm off to Ibiza tonight for my brother Richard's stag party."
This has been a staggering achievement from Rea - who, since signing for Kawasaki, won every championship - with two rounds remaining in Argentina and Qatar.
Van der Mark led from Rea, Bautista, Toprak Razgatlioglu on lap one, but on lap two the Turk made a pass on Bautista, lost control and fell off with the unlucky Spaniard unable to avoid the stricken machine and thrown over the handlebars, eliminating both from the race and in Bautista's case, his championship aspirations if Rea won the race.
It was a real ding-dong battle between the Dutch rider and Rea, passing and repassing, side-by-side at times before Jonathan made the decisive move to the front eight laps from the end.