The latest guests to be confirmed for the Adelaide Motorcycle Awards evening at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Belfast next Friday are Scottish rider Stuart Easton and Londoner Gino Rea.
For Easton this will be his first visit back to Belfast since being released from the Royal Victoria Hospital in June five weeks after his horrific practice accident at the North West 200 in which he suffered multiple injuries including shattered pelvis, hip, femur and a damaged bowel.
Despite these potentially life-threatening injuries Easton is keen to return to the North West to race again saying: “I have nothing against road racing and I want to race at the North West again although this year may be too soon, anyway it will all depend on what Birdy (Paul Bird) has planned for the team.
“What happened was a freak accident and could have happened anywhere. It will be good to get back over to Belfast and meet up with many of my friends and supporters who visited me or sent me messages of support when I was hospitalised.”
Easton will form part of the new Paul Bird Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki Team in the 2012 British Superbike Championship riding alongside Shayne Byrne and the 28-year-old from Hawick is keen to get back onboard a motorcycle again hopefully when testing begins in February.
The 2002 British Supersport champion scored his first ever BSB win at Croft in 2009 on his way to finishing third in the championship and was well in championship contention in 2011 until the North West accident when he collided with the slowing machine of team-mate Gary Mason on the fast run towards Station Corner and his season was ended. Having finished second and fifth in the 2010 Superbike races at the North West and recorded a quickest ever speed trap time of 204mph Easton was amongst the favourites for success at the 2011 meeting prior to the accident. Rea is a newcomer to the Irish scene and has spent his racing career in Europe riding in the European Superstock 600cc class, which he won in 2009 before moving up to the World Supersport championship, the last two years riding for the Czech based Step Racing Honda Team and a rival of Eugene Laverty in the 2010 season.
Last year he finished second in the second round of the series at Donington before recording his first ever world championship win at Brno in the Czech Republic. Although the 22-year-old has tested for the Gresini Racing Moto2 Team and finished inside the top three at Valencia and Jerez, no firm plans are yet in place for the 2012 season.
Rea said: “Last season was my second in world Supersport and only my fifth season on tarmac. I had hoped for top three in the championship last season, but for one reason or another it didn’t happen and I’m now looking towards the 2012 season.
“I’m looking forward to visiting the Adelaide Awards evening in Belfast, one of the highlights of the season I’m led to believe.”