Dunlop versus Hutchinson for International Road Racer of Year title

Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson went head-to-head at the international road races throughout 2016.

Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson went head-to-head at the international road races throughout 2016.

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The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast will host the biggest night in Irish motorcycling on Friday night with the Cornmarket Motorbike Awards.

World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea is a shoe-in to retain the coveted Joey Dunlop trophy for the second successive year after clinching back to back titles for Kawasaki last season.

However, another key accolade is the IFS International Road Racer of the Year award, with Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson the two most likely winners after dominating at the major road races in 2016.

Ballymoney man Dunlop set out his stall by claiming victory in the Superbike race at the North West 200 on the Hawk Racing BMW, smashing Aussie Josh Brookes’ outright lap record in the process.

Dunlop then made history as he became the first rider to clock a sub 17-minute lap around the Mountain Course at the Isle of Man TT as he powered to a commanding win in the RST Superbike race over BMW rival Hutchinson.

The 27-year-old moved onto 13 victories at the event with another imperious display to take home the blue riband Senior trophy, establishing a new outright lap record of 133.962mph.

Yorkshireman Hutchinson also revelled in a trophy-laden season, completing a clean sweep of the Superstock races at the North West 200, TT and Ulster Grand Prix on the Tyco BMW.

Although he had no answer to Dunlop in the premier class at the TT, the Bingley Bullet repeated his 2015 treble by winning both Supersport races on the Team Traction Control Yamaha along with the Superstock event.

Hutchinson then took the Ulster Grand Prix by storm, powering to a fabulous four-timer and setting a new world record lap at 134.089mph.

The shortlist also includes John McGuinness, Dean Harrison, Bruce Anstey, Peter Hickman, Alastair Seeley and Derek Sheils.

A further 12 awards will be presented at the sold-out ceremony in Belfast.