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Thrilling contests in mix for Race of the Year title

 

In action: Close racing in the opening Supersport race at the NW200 between Lee Johnston and Alastair Seeley
In action: Close racing in the opening Supersport race at the NW200 between Lee Johnston and Alastair Seeley
Andrew Irwin celebrates victor in the British Superbike Championships
Michael Dunlop wins the Race of Legends

By James Robinson

Eight memorable races have been shortlisted for the prestigious A McLean Bookmakers Race of the Year honour at the Irish Motorbike Awards in association with Charles Hurst and Cornmarket next Friday.

The accolade is one of the most eagerly-anticipated categories at the sparkling annual bash at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast, where five-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea is set to be crowned Irish Motorcyclist of the Year once again.

The winning race will be decided by a public vote overseen by the event's judging panel.

All eight races can be viewed on the Irish Motorbike Awards Facebook page, where fans can also cast their vote.

In no particular order, the nominations include Carrick man Alastair Seeley's last-gasp victory over eventual British Supersport champion Jack Kennedy in the Sprint race at Brands Hatch in June.

Former champion Seeley got the verdict on this occasion as he edged out the Dubliner on the line to win by only 0.026 seconds.

Also on the shortlist is English star Peter Hickman's record-breaking Superbike victory at the Ulster Grand Prix last August.

Hickman set a new benchmark of seven wins from seven starts at Dundrod and sensationally established a new world road racing lap record in excess of 136mph when he won the opening Superbike event on the Thursday of race week on his Smiths Racing BMW.

The Race of the Year nominations also feature young prospect Eunan McGlinchey's hard-earned win in challenging wet conditions in the Superstock 600 race at Knockhill in Scotland.

McGlinchey won his first race in the series on the Team 109 Kawasaki, fending off Ballynahinch man Korie McGreevy -who would go on to win the title - and fellow rising talent Caolan Irwin.

Road racing hero Michael Dunlop's season was hampered by injury in 2019 but that failed to stop the 19-time TT winner from maintaining his remarkable unbeaten run in the feature Race of Legends at Armoy.

Only 16 days after breaking his pelvis at the Southern 100, Dunlop battled through the pain barrier to win the big race for an eighth successive time.

Earlier in the season, Fermanagh's Lee Johnston sealed his first victory of a rewarding year at the North West 200.

On a dramatic final lap in the Thursday evening Supersport race, Johnston went head-to-head with 24-time race winner and course specialist Seeley. The pair exchanged passes and were locked together on the approach to the Juniper Hill chicane, where Seeley made a mistake and was flung from his machine, leaving Johnston to sew up victory.

Switching back to the British Championship, there was a pivotal moment for another Fermanagh racer, Josh Elliott, who toasted his maiden success in the elite British Superbike Championship at Silverstone.

There was also a debut BSB success for Carrickfergus man Andrew Irwin who won at Thruxton, getting the better of ex-MotoGP star and 2019 BSB champion Scott Redding and his PBM Ducati team-mate Josh Brookes.

The nominations are completed by Superstock 600 champion McGreevy's decisive win in the final race at Brands Hatch.

When key rival Shane Richardson retired with mechanical trouble, McGreevy pulled out all the stops to win by 0.2 seconds, clinching the title by six points.

Eight of the best from a stunning 2019

A McLean Bookmakers Race of the Year nominations

1. Alastair Seeley beats Jack Kennedy in the Sprint race at Brands Hatch by 0.026 seconds in the British Supersport Championship (June 2019)

2. Peter Hickman (right) wins the Superbike Race at the Ulster Grand Prix and breaks the outright lap record (August 2019)

3. Eunan McGlinchey takes his maiden win in the British Superstock 600 Championship, beating Korie McGreevy and Caolan Irwin in the driving rain at Knockhill (June 2019)

4. Michael Dunlop wins the Race of Legends Superbike race at Armoy 16 days after breaking his pelvis (July 2019)

5. Lee Johnston wins the opening NW200 Supersport race on Thursday night of race week after a dramatic last lap (May 2019)

6. Josh Elliott wins his first British Superbike race of the season at Silverstone (April 2019)

7. Korie McGreevy wins a thrilling British Superstock 600 race at Brands Hatch by 0.223 seconds to clinch the Championship title (October 2019)

8. Andrew Irwin wins his first British Superbike race at Thruxton (August 2019)

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