Belfast Telegraph

Fans flock to see who will scoop Joey Dunlop's trophy

By ROY HARRIS

Black ties and ball gowns will replace racing leathers as motorcycle sport's Oscars are handed out at Belfast's Shaw's Bridge Ramada Plaza hotel tonight.

A full house of 500 riders and fans will assemble for the Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of the Year in association with the Enkalon club to see one of eight nominees presented with the unique Joey Dunlop Trophy.

The honours list includes Joey's nephew, Michael Dunlop, Natalie Kane, Eugene Laverty, Nico Mawhinney, Marty Nutt, Jonathan Rea, Alastair Seeley and Derek Sheils -- all having left an indelible mark on the world of motorcycle sport in 2013.

First recognised back in 1978 when Tom Herron was declared Irish Motorcyclist of the Year the outcome of this year's public vote is eagerly anticipated.

There can only be one winner and the big question waiting to be answered tonight is will it be Michael Dunlop for his road racing prowess throughout 2013 or Eugene Laverty for his sterling performances at World Superbike level where he finished runner-up in the hotly contested series or can one of the other six nominees upset the odds and pip the favourites to the post?

Dunlop would be winning the award for the first time, following in the tyre tracks of his late dad Robert, twice a winner, and uncle Joey, who won this title an unprecedented eight times. Laverty is looking to add his name to the trophy for the second time having won it in 2010.

Natalie Kane would become the first female winner, if successful and only the second motocross competitor following Alan Morrison's achievement in 1990.

World Supersport champion Sam Lowes, British Supersport champion Stuart Easton and Macau Grand Prix winner Ian Hutchinson will be amongst the star guests as a dozen other awards will be presented -- Red Bull Young Rider of the Year, McLean Bookmakers Race of the Year, IFS International and National Road Racer of the Year, Blackhorse Short Circuit Rider of the Year, Alias Off Road Rider of the Year, RPS Group Services to Motorcycling and Belfast Telegraph Team of the Year

And, as always, there will be standing ovations for the recipients of the Adelaide Outstanding Achievement Award, Greenlight Television Lifetime Achievement and the latest induction into the Belleek Hall of Fame.

Organisers of the evening are delighted with the response and on their behalf MC Stephen Watson said: "We have been overwhelmed by the record vote for the Adelaide awards and all I can say is that it is a tight call for the Joey Dunlop Trophy. To all our sponsors and those who have purchased tickets, we are indebted and I'm sure you will all enjoy what has a date not to be missed on the motorcycling calendar."

* GORDON Crockard and Wayne Garrett will uphold Irish honour against some of the world's top talent tonight and tomorrow night at the Garmin Arenacross Tour in the Odyssey Arena.

A limited number of tickets are still available for the opening nights of the sevn round series by going to www.odysseyarena.com or call the ticket hotline on 028 9073 9074. For more information go to www.arenacrossuk.com.

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