Voting opens on Friday for the prestigious Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of the Year awards, with 11-times Isle of Man TT winner Michael Dunlop among the favourites to lift the Joey Dunlop trophy in Belfast in January.
Dunlop claimed his second successive four-timer on the Mountain Course in June, winning both the Superbike and Senior TT races plus the Superstock event for BMW, giving the German manufacturer its first big bike success at the TT in 75 years.
The 25-year-old also added a win in the Supersport class on his MD Racing Honda for good measure and began the season on a high at the North West 200, winning the Superstock and feature Superbike events.
A total of 22 competitors have been nominated for the top accolade, won last year by Eugene Laverty, who finished as the runner-up in the World Superbike Championship in 2013.
The winner will be decided by a special online public vote which can be accessed via a new website at www.adelaidemotorbikeawards.com, with the coveted gong presented on a sparkling night at the Ramada Plaza Hotel on Friday, January 23 in association with the Enkalon Club.
Dunlop’s opposition for the main award includes World Superbike star Jonathan Rea, who has ended a career-long association with Honda to switch to Kawasaki for 2015. Rea finished third in the championship this year and will fly into Northern Ireland from pre-season testing in Spain to attend the event.
The nominees also include Carrick’s Alastair Seeley, who finished second in the British Supersport Championship and won twice at the North West 200 in the Superstock and Supersport races, plus Supersport contender Glenn Irwin, who won five races on the Gearlink Kawasaki on his way to fourth place overall.
Current holder Laverty is also on the shortlist along with Andy Reid, who clinched second place in the British Superstock 600 series, plus Adelaide Masters Superbike and Supersport champions Cody Nally and Carl Phillips.
The public vote will be overseen by an expert panel of judges chaired by former British Champion Adrian Coates.
A dozen other awards will also be presented on the night including Road Racer of the Year, Team of the Year, Hall of Fame and Race of the Year.
Tickets can be purchased by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or Tel: 07584058810.
The full list of nominees is:
Richard Bird, Michael Burton, Michael Dunlop, William Dunlop, Stuart Edmonds, Jamie Hamilton, Glenn Irwin, Graeme Irwin, Lee Johnston, Natalie Kane, Jack Kennedy, Eugene Laverty, Michael Laverty, Derek McGee, Mark McLernon, Richard McNeill, Cody Nally, Marty Nutt, Carl Phillips, Jonathan Rea, Andy Reid and Alastair Seeley.