Adelaide Enkalon Irish Motorcyclist of the Year: Michael Dunlop takes poll position at double
Michael Dunlop starts a new motorcycle racing year as he means to continue, in pole position as Ireland's No1 rider.
The 25-year-old Ballymoney ace was last night acclaimed as Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of the Year, the main award winner at the Irish bike racing Oscars, in front of a packed house of riders and fans at Belfast's Shaw's Bridge Ramada.
Surprisingly, it is the first time Michael's name has been inscribed on the iconic trophy replica of his late, great uncle Joey Dunlop's famous yellow, Arai racing helmet.
And the success was made all the sweeter when he learned he came out on top, purely as a result of the award's biggest ever online public vote by many thousands of bike racing fans.
It was revealed that the awards judging panel, made up of former riders and commentators, were split down the middle on an overall winner from a short list of seven and deferred to the public vote.
That came down resoundingly in favour of Michael who polled more than a quarter of the vote at 26.5%.
The fans called it right and its a mystery how the judges could not agree after Michael created history by becoming the first rider in history to win four races at the Isle of Man TT in successive years. He also had a double at the Vauxhall North West 200, won the Armoy Race of Legends and the feature Superbike Race in Frohburg, Germany, setting a lap record.
Michael, gearing up for a debut season with Yamaha Europe, follows in the slipstream of his late dad Robert who twice won the trophy, first instituted by the Enkalon Club, and his uncle Joey who won it eight times. Michael also scooped the IFS International Road Racer of the Year award.
And he was only denied a treble on the night by older brother William, ironically winning the McLean Bookmakers Race of the Year for a dramatic NW200 victory in which he also pipped Michael.
Our own Belfast Telegraph Team of the Year award went to Cookstown-based John Burrows Racing for a brilliant season in which they won 12 Superbike races and scored a first thrilling international win at the Ulster Grand Prix. They also scooped the Ulster and Irish Superbike titles and won two other Irish championships.
Sunday Life's Off Road Rider of the Year award went to Mark McLernon who finished first in the British Quad U21 championship taking seven wins on his way to third overall in the main British championship.
A standing ovation greeted the induction of the late, great Tom Herron into the Belleek Hall of Fame.
Last year's main award winner, MotoGP rider Eugene Laverty, arrived at the event with fiancée Pippa Morson from their Monaco base, having earlier in the day taken part in a celebrity leg of the four-wheel Monte Carlo Rally.