Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: Rea heads quality 10-man shortlist for Irish Motorcyclist of the Year award

Pole position: reigning Irish Motorcyclist of the Year Jonathan Rea with the 2018 trophy
Pole position: reigning Irish Motorcyclist of the Year Jonathan Rea with the 2018 trophy

By Roy Harris

Voting is now open for the Cornmarket Irish Motorcyclist of the Year award, with the winner to be presented with the new Joey Dunlop Trophy at the gala dinner in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Belfast on Friday, January 18.

Jonathan Rea picked up this prestigious award last year for the third successive time and since then he has gone on to break record after record in the World Superbike Championship en route to an historic fourth straight title.

He became the most successful competitor in the history of the series and is now the overwhelming favourite to retain the Cornmarket Irish Motorcyclist of the Year award.

Ten competitors from various disciplines of the sport have been nominated for the prestigious award, with a special online public vote and a panel of expert judges, chaired by former British champion Adrian Coates, determining the eventual winner.

Coates said: "Last year we had a massive vote topped by Jonathan Rea and we are hoping it can be even bigger this year.

"To make the final shortlist is regarded an important accolade for every rider and there is plenty at stake."

Three British champions have been included on the shortlist - Keith Farmer, who clinched the Pirelli National Superstock 1000cc Championship, an incredible fourth national title of his career; Jack Kennedy, who sealed his first British title when he won a thrilling Supersport series; and 20-year-old Eunan McGlinchey, who triumphed in the inaugural British Junior Supersport Championship, his first full season riding on the British scene.

A set of brothers have also made the cut - Carrick's Glenn Irwin, who had a sensational double Superbike success at the international North West 200 and won his first British Superbike race on his way to third position in the high-profile Championship, and sibling Andrew Irwin, who scored his first World Championship point during the British World Supersport round at Donington Park.

Andrew then received a call-up to the PBM Be Wiser Ducati BSB team as a replacement rider for the injured Shane Byrne. Never having ridden a Superbike before, Andrew acquitted himself superbly by racing to a best fourth position at the final round at Brands Hatch.

Impressive 2018 performances have also come from Alastair Seeley, a North West 200 hat-trick winner riding EHA Yamaha and Tyco BMW machines, extending his record number of victories at the event to 24.

Michael Dunlop was also a three-time international road race winner on three different machines during the Isle of Man TT, taking the opening Superbike race for Tyco BMW, a Supersport race on his own team's Yamaha and then the Lightweight TT on his first ever ride on a 650cc Paton, taking his total to 18 TT victories.

Derek McGee had a superb season, clinching the Irish Superbike, Supersport and Supertwin Irish Road Race Championships and scoring a podium in the Lightweight TT, while Eugene Laverty secured a pole position and a first rostrum finish for the Milwaukee Aprilia World Superbike team after coming back from nasty injuries in a crash in Thailand.

Details on how to vote can be found on Twitter at @BikeAwards or on the Cornmarket Motorbike Awards Facebook page, with voting closing on December 28.

Other awards include IFS Road Racer of the Year, Blackhorse Best Short Circuit Rider of the Year, JWA Team of the Year, RPS Hall of Fame, Greenlight Television special recognition and BetMcLean Race of the Year.

The list of nominees is:

Michael Dunlop, Keith Farmer, Andrew Irwin, Glenn Irwin, Jack Kennedy, Eugene Laverty, Derek McGee, Eunan McGlinchey, Jonathan Rea, Alastair Seeley

Belfast Telegraph

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