Rea dedicates top award to the late William Dunlop
The honours just keep flowing for record-breaking four-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea.
The Ulsterman received a standing ovation at the Crowne Plaza hotel last night as he collected the Joey Dunlop Trophy after being announced as the Cornmarket Irish Motorcyclist of the Year for a record fourth successive year - his sixth time in total.
It moved the 31-year-old Templepatrick rider to within two wins of the man who the main award is named after, Joey Dunlop, who won the prize a record eight times.
After receiving the distinctive new trophy, Rea said: "I'm amazed to be mentioned in the same breath as Joey Dunlop, who was my hero in my younger days.
"To win this award four times running is an honour and I have to thank the many, many people who took the time to vote for me, my family and everybody who has supported me to reach the pinnacle of my sport.
"I dedicate this success to William Dunlop and all the other riders who paid the ultimate sacrifice in 2018. It has been an honour to stand on the stage tonight with so many talented motorcycle champions from this wee country, we certainly do punch well above our weight."
Rea's crowning came at the end of an amazing evening when a diverse mix of motorcycle competitors were honoured for their contribution to the sport in 2018, the most sombre moment coming when William Dunlop was posthumously inducted into the RPS Group Hall of Fame.
The popular Ballymoney rider lost his life in a practice accident during the Skerries Road Races last July.
Peter Hickman collected the IFS International Road Racer of the Year award after becoming the fastest road racer in the world following his astonishing 135.452mph lap record on the final lap of the torturous 37-mile Isle of Man Mountain Circuit on his way to Senior TT victory.
Hickman was also a winner at all the other International road races in 2018 in what was a memorable season on a Smiths BMW.
The Belfast Telegraph National Road Racer of the Year award went to triple Irish champion Derek McGee.
British Supersport champion Jack Kennedy was announced as the Blackhorse Short Circuit Rider of the Year at UK venues after a year of sensational racing.
Keith Farmer, British champion in the Superstock 1000cc class, took the Cornmarket Outstanding Achievement award after his fourth British title.
Kawasaki Young Rider of the Year went to Eunan McGlinchey, who won the inaugural British Junior Supersport Championship in his first full season of UK racing on his Team #109 Kawasaki.
Team #109 emerged victorious in the JWA Team of the Year category, fending off the might of Tyco BMW by TAS, Cookstown BE and KMR Kawasaki.
Valerie Crichton received the NI Air Ambulance Services to Sport award for her role in the cornerstone of a race meeting, Race Control, while the Greenlight Television Special Recognition award went to McAdoo Racing for their long association with the sport as sponsors of numerous racers for over 30 years.
The Cookstown-based team were also involved in the McLean Bookmakers Race of the Year won by the North West 200 Supertwin race two in which McAdoo rider James Cowton, who later lost his life in a tragic Southern 100 accident, triumphed.
Gerard Kinghan won the Ulster Superbike title in 2018 and collected the Phillip McCallen Motorcycles Short Circuit Rider of the Year on Irish Circuits award, while Belleek Off-Rider of the Year went to Martin Barr for his European 250 and British MX2 Championship performances plus his MX des Nations rides for the Irish team, the 14th consecutive year he had represented Ireland in this major MX event.
√ DANNY McManus, a long-time sponsor of Alan Irwin during the 1980s, sadly passed away in hospital on Monday.
Danny was the father of Eugene McManus, a 500cc Grand Prix competitor in the mid-1990s, and grandfather of both Eugene McManus Jnr, a leading competitor in the current British Motostar Championship, and 14-year-old James McManus, who is a newcomer to British Junior Supersport.
Cornmarket Irish Motorcyclist of the Year: Jonathan Rea
IFS International Road Racer of the Year: Peter Hickman
Belfast Telegraph National Road Racer of the Year: Derek McGee
Blackhorse Short Circuit Rider of the Year UK circuits: Jack Kennedy
Phillip McCallen Motorcycles Short Circuit Rider of the Year Irish Circuits: Gerard Kinghan
Kawasaki Young Rider of the Year: Eunan McGlinchey
Cornmarket Outstanding Achievement award: Keith Farmer
Belleek Off-Road Rider of the Year: Martin Barr
JWA Team of the Year: Team #109
NI Air Ambulance Services to Motorcycling: Valerie Crichton
RPS Group Hall of Fame: William Dunlop
Greenlight Television Special Recognition Award: McAdoo Racing
A McLean Bookmakers Race of the Year: North West 200 Supertwin race two, which was won by James Cowton