Belfast Telegraph

Michael Dunlop is in pole position for Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of the Year award

By Paul Lindsay

If 11-time TT winner Michael Dunlop does lift tonight's coveted Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of the Year award at Belfast's Ramada Plaza, I have a feeling it will be universally welcomed by the great and the good at the annual black tie bash.

Dunlop is part of a seven-strong shortlist of Irish-born racers, which includes ever-present award winners and world-renowned performers Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty.

But the part public, part committee vote should see Dunlop stand on yet another top step after an extraordinary year in 2014, that saw him win four Isle of Man TT Races, the North West 200 Superbike feature race and a plethora of other smaller accolades on both BMW and Honda machinery.

In all, 14 awards will be handed out on the night with Dunlop almost certain to take one home under each arm and all the PR that comes with it, but one of the most hotly contested categories will be the Belfast Telegraph Team of the Year Award.

Hector and Philip Neill's TAS Racing were perennial winners in the early days of the Ramada event, but in recent seasons the team award has been shared around a little more, with Roger Magee's Motocross team and Tim Martin's successful Mar-Train squad honoured.

For tonight's event all three of the aforementioned teams are included in the short list.

TAS Racing, soon to be known as Tyco BMW after 14 seasons flying the flag for Suzuki, would be the first to admit they under-performed in 2014 despite a North West 200 Superbike win with William Dunlop, which should win tonight's McLean Bookmakers' Race of the Year.

Mar-Train Racing also came up short in the British Supersport Championship despite a North West 200 double with Alastair Seeley, with Roger Magee's Hitachi KTM UK again the stand out performers in the former winners' category.

Certainly an impressive collective tally from the trio of former winners, but for this year I believe a new team will be crowned, Belfast Telegraph Team of the Year.

And for me the team award should go to former racer John Burrows' Cookstown BE Racing Team.

Burrows' team took 12 Superbike race wins during 2014, which delivered Irish and Ulster Superbike titles, but their finest hour came at the Ulster Grand Prix, where they won a thrilling Superstock race.

With three top ten finishes for the privateer team at the Isle of Man TT and four podiums at the Southern 100 also on the team CV it would be a fitting tribute to Burrows and his dedicated personnel for a top class season if they could collect the Belfast Telegraph supported Team of the Year award.

Belfast Telegraph

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