Rea enjoys another treble as he lands top accolade
A jubilant Jonathan Rea last night proclaimed the Irish Motorcyclist of the Year title will always hold a special place in his heart as he scooped the coveted honour at the Cornmarket Motorbike Awards.
Rea received the famous Joey Dunlop trophy for the fifth time and equalled the Ulster road racing king's feat of claiming the recognition in three consecutive years.
The triple World Superbike champion was a unanimous overall winner following his history-making feat in 2017, when Rea won the championship for the third successive season.
Amidst a standing ovation at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Rea underlined the importance of the iconic Joey Dunlop trophy, which he has now been given to keep to mark his hat-trick of world championships.
"It's really nice to get an award that is voted for by the public and it's an award that has a lot of sentimental value to me," said Rea, who was also presented with a magnificent new trophy created by the company who supply the Pride of Britain Awards and Master Chef.
"Right from the get-go of growing up in Northern Ireland when I first started my road race career, this awards night has been the highlight of the motorcycling calendar back home.
"It has always meant a lot to me and whilst I have gone off on international adventures, it's very important to return home and show my support for it."
British Supersport champion Keith Farmer was the runner-up in the main category, with British MX1 champion Graeme Irwin coming third in the public vote, which was overseen by a panel of judges and chaired by former British champion Adrian Coates.
Rea is on a flying visit to Northern Ireland before jetting off to Portugal, where he will recommence winter testing tomorrow at Portimao.
The globe-trotting Kawasaki rider has been a loyal supporter of Irish motorcycling's big awards night over the years and Rea hailed the event as a credit to the sport in this country.
"It's really important to all get together on a night like this. Motorcycling is such a niche sport and with an event of this scale in Northern Ireland, it's one of the premier sports events in the country," he said.
On an unforgettable night, Rea's father and 1989 Junior TT winner Johnny was inaugurated into the Hall of Fame, while Sam Geddis, MD of Cornmarket Insurance Services, received the NI Air Ambulance Services to Motorcycling award.
The JWA Team of the Year went to Moneymore's Tyco BMW outfit after an abundance of success at the international road races.
PBM Ducati rider Glenn Irwin was the recipient of the Greenlight Television Special Recognition accolade and also played a starring role in the A. McLean Bookmakers Race of the Year, which went to the feature Superbike race at the North West 200.
Irwin and fellow Carrick rival Alastair Seeley served up a real treat, with Irwin prevailing for a famous victory in Portrush on the big Ducati.
His brother, Graeme, was a clear-cut winner of the Belleek Off-Road Rider of the Year after a stunning season when he won the British MX1 and Nationals MX1 titles.
Ireland's Derek McGee was named as the Belfast Telegraph National Road Racer of the Year following the Mullingar man's Irish championship treble in the Superbike, Supersport and Supertwins classes.
Another prestigious award, the IFS International Road Racer of the Year, went to Peter Hickman after the Louth rider's performances at the Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix in particular.
Cornmarket Motorbike Awards
Cornmarket Irish Motorcyclist of the Year 2017:
Black Horse Short Circuit Rider of the Year (GB circuits):
IFS International Road Racer of the Year:
Greenlight Television Special Recognition:
A. McLean Bookmakers Race of the Year:
Glenn Irwin (North West 200 Superbike)
Belfast Telegraph National Road Racer of the Year:
Black Horse Short Circuit Rider of the Year (Irish circuits):
RPS Group Hall of Fame:
JWA Team of the Year:
Phillip McCallen Motorcycles Young Rider of the Year:
NI Air Ambulance Services to Motorcycling:
Belleek Off Road Rider of the Year:
Kawasaki Outstanding Achievement Award:
Special Recognition Award: