Howard and Craig flew to Ireland to hand over the award from Kawasaki Motors UK. As well as the award, Jonathan was presented with a specially commissioned oil painting too – showing a scene from the final race of Jonathan’s triumphant 2016 WSBK campaign, under the floodlights of Qatar wearing his celebration design Arai helmet.
From this unique painting, 165 limited-edition prints have been created – none of which will be sold – however, customers who pre-register to attend Kawasaki’s 2017 New Model launch night on Friday 24 February could be in with a chance of winning one. Each Kawasaki dealer will have one limited-edition print each to present. Simply visit to register for the event: www.getevencloser.co.uk
. Each print is numbered and comes with a letter of authenticity.
Howard Dale said: “Jonathan is always very quick to thank all those supporting him to enable him to chase his dreams. We, at Kawasaki Motors UK, felt that it is not only a nice gesture but also the right thing to do to show our appreciation of his talent, professionalism and his commitment to do his best for himself, his team and Kawasaki. His success reflects onto Kawasaki as a brand, creates brand exposure and makes our job of selling and marketing that much easier.”
Craig Watson explained the thought process behind commissioning an oil painting: “I wanted to do something that would not only be a great surprise for Jonathan, but something that he could keep forever to remember. I called ‘Billy Art’ as I’m always amazed at the work he produces and asked if we could commission a one-off painting. We used a shot from the final race of the season – and this is it. I think it looks amazing.”
Jonathan Rea commented: “This really is a shock – but a fantastic shock. I was out with Howard a few weeks ago in Kobe near Kawasaki’s Akashi Factory playing darts and he didn’t mention a thing. I’ve only had a quick look at the painting on the stage but already you can see how special it is. It’s an honour to receive the award and the painting from the team at Kawasaki Motors UK.”
The first round of the 2017 World Superbike Championship begins at Philip Island, Australia, on February 24-26.