Northern Ireland's Jonathan Rea has won the World Superbike title after finishing fourth in the opening race in Jerez on Sunday.

Rea had only needed a top nine finish to ensure he became the North's first motorcycling world champion since 1968.

The County Antrim 28-year-old finished behind England's Tom Sykes, Welshman Chaz Davies and Michael van der Mark of Holland.

Ironically the race that sealed Rea's title win also marked the first time he had finished off the podium in 21 races.

Rae went on to also finish fourth in the second race of the afternoon, which was won by Davies.

Rae told BBC Sport: "I cannot quite believe it - I have been waiting for this moment for such a long time.

"It was a difficult race and on every lap I was thinking about the championship and I was really happy in the end."

Northern Ireland great Joey Dunlop won the Formula One TT title in 1968, with Brian Reid winning the Formula Two title in the same year.