Belfast Telegraph

Rea is in pole position for Irish Rider of Year crown

By Roy Harris

A sell-out crowd will gather in the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Belfast this evening for the Cornmarket Motorbike Awards where the Irish Motorcyclist of the Year will be presented with the unique Joey Dunlop Trophy, in conjunction with Enkalon Motorcycle Club.

World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea is odds-on favourite to walk off with the main award following a magnificent debut season with the Kawasaki Racing Team.

Rea, who is flying into Belfast following two days' testing in Spain ahead of the start of the defence of his World crown, said: "I have had a hectic schedule since Christmas having been to Australia, Thailand and Spain but I wanted to make sure I was available for the Cornmarket Awards evening, as it is one of the highlights of the motorcycling year."

It would be a fitting tribute to Rea, were he to win, having followed in the wheel tracks of Northern Ireland's previous World champions - Ralph Bryans, Joey Dunlop and Brian Reid.

The nominees for the main award, voted for by the general public and overseen by a judging panel led by Adrian Coates, were reduced to a magnificent seven with Rea's competition coming from Josh Elliott, Glenn Irwin, Lee Johnston, Eugene and Michael Laverty and Alastair Seeley.

In what is motorcycle sport's equivalent to the Oscars, a dozen other award winners will be announced with over 30 competitors and teams nominated in the various categories.

The voting for the A McLean Bookmakers Race of the Year title has drawn an incredible response, with bike fans able to vote right up until moments before the winner is revealed, via@bikeawards on Twitter.

Among the host of stars from the motorcycling world attending this evening are British Superstock Champion Elliott, treble TT winner Ian Hutchinson, new PBM Motorsport Ducati British Superbike rider Irwin, Ryan Farquhar and Jeremy McWilliams, who has just arrived home from Australia after helping the UK team retain the Philip Island Classic Trophy.

William Dunlop, fresh from a successful Spanish test on his MSS Superstock Kawasaki in preparation for the new season, and Lee Johnston, the Ulster Grand Prix treble winner back in August, will also attend.

So, who will win big? Whatever happens tonight, Irish motorcycling has produced another bumper year of outstanding performances in 2015, acclaimed at the Cornmarket Motorbike Awards

Dr Janet Acheson, unable to attend the award ceremony tonight, earlier accepted the Greenlight Television special posthumous award on behalf of her partner, the late Dr John Hinds, for his exceptional services to motorcycling.

'Doc John' as he was affectionately known around the motorcycling scene, lost his life in a tragic accident during practice for the Skerries Road Races last year while he was providing medical cover at the event.

Belfast Telegraph


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