Road racer award gearing up to be fierce battle
Anticipation is mounting ahead of Friday night's Cornmarket Motorcycle Awards in the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Belfast when one of the most keenly contested awards will be the IFS International Road Racer of the Year.
Six riders have been nominated after much deliberation by the panel of judges led by former British 250cc Champion Adrian Coates.
They are Bruce Anstey, Peter Hickman, Ian Hutchinson, Lee Johnston, John McGuinness and Alastair Seeley.
New Zealander Anstey has a unique record of finishing on a podium at the three major international meetings every year since his debut in 2002.
Last year he achieved a personal goal by winning a TT Superbike race for the first time.
Hickman has emerged as a star of the future on the road race scene and from being a fastest newcomer he tasted the victory champagne for the first time at the Ulster Grand Prix in the final Superbike race, going on to add the Macau Grand Prix to his success story.
Johnston is another who has served his apprenticeship on the roads and is now a major contender for victories.
Last season the Hull-based rider picked up his first TT podium in the Superstock race and at the UGP scored a fantastic treble with two Supersport and a Superstock victory plus he raised substantial money for cancer charities through his F13K Cancer campaign.
Hutchinson had a sensational season scoring an awe-inspiring TT treble having returned from a well-documented career-threatening leg injury.
The character and steely determination to stand on top of a TT podium again was simply awe-inspiring from the resilient Hutchinson.
Two of those wins came on Keith Flint's Traction Control Yamaha and the Prodigy frontman will be in attendance on Friday night.
McGuinness is a 23-times TT winner and he set a stunning new lap record on the second lap on his way to winning the Senior TT last year.
He recorded an astonishing lap of 132.701mph during the fastest TT race ever and a lap at over 119mph, the first sub-19 minute lap by an electric bike.
Seeley only competes in one road race per year, the North West 200, and he certainly has delivered results since his debut in 2004.
A treble in the two Supersport races and Superbike race last year brought his tally of wins to 15, equalling the record of Robert Dunlop for most wins around the Triangle.
All six competitors are very worthy contenders, but to find out just who will walk away with the title, we'll have to wait until Friday night and what will be a glittering occasion.