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Aaron heads list of nominees for young rider of the year

By Roy Harris

With the Cornmarket Motorcycle Awards this Friday night in the Crown Plaza Hotel, Belfast, an interesting category from which to pick a winner is the Garmin Young Rider of the Year.

As competitors start younger and younger in tarmac racing these days the winner of this particular accolade will come from a 12-21 years of age span.

Such were the judges' difficulties they produced a list of 10 nominees from which the eventual winner will be announced.

Among the riders nominated are British Junior KTM champion Aaron Wright (16), who dominated the series that is part of the BSB race programme with 11 wins from 20 races.

Also in the running is Johnny Campbell (12) from Lisburn, who won the 2016 Irish and Ulster 125cc Young Guns class, taking 14 wins in his first full season of racing enough to earn him the prestigious David Wood Scholarship presented by the MCUI (Ulster Centre) recently.

Campbell was also 2014 World Mini Moto champion and won four Irish Mini Moto championships at 10 years of age before moving up to the Irish short circuit scene.

Leon Rogers (20) won the 2016 British U-21 Quad championship, Rhys Irwin (14) came within a point of winning the reputable Thundersport 125cc Aprilia Challenge, Jason Lynn (20) won the Irish and Ulster Supersport Pro championships, Adam McLean also 20 won the Irish and Ulster Moto3 (125GP) road race championships and is set to make his TT debut in June

16-year-olds Richard Kerr and Eugene McManus had quite a few on-track battles in the British Moto3 championship on their way to 11th and 13th positions respectively in the series while Scott Swann (14) finished third in the British Junior KTM Junior championship in his first season on mainland tracks.

Aaron Clifford (17) won the Masters Supersport Cup series, going through the championship undefeated. He also won both legs of the David Wood Memorial race at Bishopscourt, beating a quality field of national short circuit riders.

Picking a winner from Ireland's top young competitors must have been a nightmare for Adrian Coates and his panel of judges with their decision awaited with anticipation.

Another award presented on the night will be the Belfast Telegraph National Road Racer of the Year and Derek Sheils, a double Irish road race champion, Derek McGee, Adam McLean, Paul Jordan and Michael Sweeney should all be in the running.

Meanwhile, this Friday (5pm-10pm) and Saturday (10am-5pm) the Comber Motorcycle Show organised by Norman McCaig takes place in 1st Comber Presbyterian Church Hall with proceeds going to help badly injured motocross rider Wayne Garrett and other charities. All disciplines of motorcycling will be catered for at what is great social occasion. Admission is £3.

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