World Superbike star and current holder of the Irish Motorcyclist of the Year title, Eugene Laverty, has launched the selection process for the most prestigious awards in motorbike sport here.
The Adelaide Insurance-backed Irish Racer magazine black tie event is scheduled for January 14 in the New Year at the Shaw’s Bridge Ramada Hotel in Belfast.
Laverty is a strong favourite to retain the highest accolade in local motorcycling at the January event, promoted by the specialist magazine which recently celebrated its 100th issue.
His main opposition for the top prize will again come in the form of fellow World Superbike star Jonathan Rea, who excelled during 2010 with 10 podiums and four victories with Dutch based Ten Kate Honda.
Sterilgarda Yamaha rider Laverty is a new recruit to the premier WSB class for 2011, having secured his new deal after finishing second in this season’s World Supersport Championship with eight victories for Parkalgar Honda.
The 24-year-old immediately headed to Australia for his second test on the YZF-R1, but was delighted to take time out to help promote Racer awards.
“It’s always good to support the Irish Racer event as it's the biggest awards ceremony in local motorcycling and the one everyone wants to win,” he explained.
“My brother Michael has won it twice, as have Jonathan Rea and Ryan Farquhar, so I'll be hoping to retain the main Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of the Year trophy on January 14 to join them on two wins apiece.”
Laverty had a successful opening test on the Sterilgarda YZF-R1 Yamaha in France at the beginning of November, surprising all and sundry in the WSB paddock with his pace and effortless style.
Phillip Island in Australia will give Eugene the opportunity for some warm weather set-up time before returning home for a short Christmas break and the aforementioned gala black tie event.
All disciplines of motorbike sport are covered by the awards — road racing, track and off-road — as well as team and backroom recognition.
Event organiser and Publishing Editor at Irish Racer magazine, Paul Lindsay, will announce his star guests in the coming weeks, with the night again hosted by BBC Sport NI’s Stephen Watson and Jackie Fullerton.
With 13 awards on offer for a multitude of disciplines, it promises to be another cracking night of entertainment. Tickets are available from Careva Events on 028 90 486034.
l Eugene Laverty and Jonathan Rea are both featured in this week's ‘Bulletin TV' show on Thursday at 7.00pm on RTE 2.