Belfast Telegraph

Battle of Dunlop brothers vies for race of the year

By Jim Gracey

All who witnessed the high-speed, gladiatorial contest will not forget last year's thrilling Vauxhall North West 200 battle of the Dunlop brothers.

It happened on the final lap of the opening Superbike showdown and was heart in mouth pure theatre at 120mph.

William Dunlop had what looked like a race winning lead in difficult drying conditions, but brother Michael was having none of it, coming from a poor start to get into William's slip stream going onto the last lap.

With tyres deteriorating, William's Tyco Suzuki and Michael's BMW Motorrad swapped places two or three times between Mathers Chicane and Juniper where Michael, in the lead, could only watch as William pulled off a dramatic late braking manoeuvre to snatch the lead and take the chequered flag to record his first international Superbike race victory.

The sibling rivalry continued as the pair dismounted at the finish line with Michael famously telling his older brother, live on TV: "Don't try that again!"

Was Michael joking? It was hard to tell and now we might get another chance to find out as William's victory gets the fans talking again in a video re-run - one of six thrilling races shortlisted for the McLean Bookmakers Race of the Year at the upcoming Adelaide Motorbike Awards at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Belfast on Friday, January 23 as leathers are swapped for black tie and evening dress.

Voting opens today with the public helping to select the winner via a special online poll. Bike fans can relive highights of the races and then select their winner at www.amcleanbookmakers.com or www.adelaidemotorbikeawards.com.

Choosing the nominations was a headache for the panel of judges, chaired by former British Champion Adrian Coates, as there were so many hotly contested races in 2014.

Carrick's Alastair Seeley is shortlisted twice for his outstanding performances on the roads and short circuits. The Martrain Yahama rider won the opening North West 200 Supersport race coming from 16th at the end of the first lap, setting a new lap record in the process.

Forced onto the footpath at York Corner on the first lap by the crash of Lee Johnston, Seeley had to complete a U-turn before re-joining the race, making up ground to reel in the leaders and snatch a dramatic victory.

In the British Supersport championship, Seeley won eight times during the year in an enthralling series, with his brilliant victory at Oulton Park possibly his most hard fought.

Seeley's fellow Carrick rider Glenn Irwin's superb season for the Gearlink Kawasaki team is recognised by the judges with a worthy nomination for his victory in the British Championship feature race at Brands Hatch in April.

The Ulster Grand Prix Superstock race was another heart-stopping three-man five lap dice between Dean Harrison, Dan Kneen and Bruce Anstey in difficult damp and dry conditions with the verdict going to Kneen from Harrison by a thousandth of a second with Anstey just a tenth behind the pair.

The final nomination goes to Eugene Laverty for his World Superbike victory at the opening round at Phillip Island where the Toomebridge rider worked his way through the field from seventh to record a stunning win on his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki debut, securing the first World Championship success for the Japanese manufacturer since 2010.

LIST OF RACE NOMINATIONS

ULSTER GRAND PRIX SUPERSTOCK: Dan Kneen won from Dean Harrison by 0.001 second

NORTH WEST 200 SUPERSPORT:Alastair Seeley won with a new lap record on Thursday after coming from 16th position at the end of lap one.

NORTH WEST 200 SUPERBIKE: Last lap duel between the Dunlop brothers as William beat Michael to record his first international Superbike victory.

BRITISH SUPERSPORT (OULTON PARK): Battle between the Triumphs, Martrain Yahama of Alastair Seeley and Gearlink Kawasaki of Glenn Irwin. Race won by Alastair Seeley.

BRITISH SUPERSPORT (BRANDS HATCH): Glenn Irwins wins the sprint race in wet conditions.

WORLD SUPERBIKE (AUSTRALIA): Eugene Laverty wins race one of the opening World Superbike race at Philip Island.

Belfast Telegraph

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