Hutchy heroics to fore in battle for Race of Year prize
With the Cornmarket Motorcycle Awards evening fast approaching, one of the most sought-after gongs to be presented on the night will be the A McLean Bookmakers Race of the Year.
The panel of judges - chaired by Adrian Coates and including Jeremy McWilliams, Phillip McCallen, Gordon Crockard and Enkalon Club Chairman Davy Weir - have nominated six cracking races from the 2016 season from which the winner will be chosen by the general public and voted for on social media right up until the awards evening on January 27.
Here is a brief rundown of the races in the running.
1. The Superstock race at the North West 200 - a five lap race that saw a seven rider slipstream battle culminate with one and a half seconds covering the top five at the chequered flag, Ian Hutchinson setting a new lap record of 122.702mph to take the win ahead of Peter Hickman, Alastair Seeley, Michael Rutter and Michael Dunlop.
2. Who could forget the scorching final Superbike race at the Ulster Grand Prix when the top six finishers all recorded laps at over 133mph while race winner Hutchinson on the very last lap covered the 7.4mile Dundrod Circuit in 3m 18.704secs to become the fastest rider in the world at a speed of 134.089mph fending off the challenge of Bruce Anstey and Michael Dunlop.
3. Michael Laverty won a thrilling British Superbike race two at the ultra-fast Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire, taking his Tyco BMW to victory over Jason O'Halloran with Glenn Irwin in third, a race that saw tyre conservation play a leading role.
4. The second Supersport race at the Sunflower Trophy meeting at Bishopscourt saw three of our leading young riders - Andrew Irwin, David Allingham and Carl Phillips, who all raced superbly on the BSB scene - thrill the large crowd with their end of season showdown on home soil with Irwin in front at the chequered flag a mere 0.089sec ahead of Allingham with Phillips a further two tenths back in third.
5. At Armoy Road Races the contest of the day was undoubtedly the seven lap Supertwin thriller with seven riders in contention. Four abreast at times on the country roads, the result in doubt until they flashed towards the chequered flag with James Cowton edging out Michael Sweeney and Christian Elkin with a tenth of a second splitting the trio in a blanket finish.
6. Andy Reid took a Supersport double victory at Thruxton back in July with race one (sprint) a real cat and mouse affair between six riders on the high-speed sweeping bends, the fastest on the BSB calendar.
All worthy contestants, but there can only be one winner and you decide by registering your vote on Cornmarket Motorbike Awards Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/motorbikeawards/ or on Twitter @BikeAwards.
Remember you can still register your vote right up until January 27 during the Cornmarket Awards presentation evening in the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Belfast.
Tickets are almost sold out for the evening, but you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07584058810 for more information.