World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea described himself as ‘proud and humble’ to be named Irish Motorcyclist of the Year for a third time at the star-studded Cornmarket Motorbike Awards in the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Belfast.
The 28 year old Kawasaki rider, from Ballyclare collected the iconic yellow helmet Joey Dunlop Trophy, named in honour of his idol and inspiration in a poll decided by public vote.
He told a full house audience of local, national and international bike stars and their fans: “I am proud and humbled to return to Northern Ireland as World Champion - it was always my ambition. Joey was always a hero of mine and to be voted Irish Motorcyclist of the Year for a third time by the general public is mega.”
Ballymoney’s William Dunlop lifted the Belleek National Road Racer of the Year and Ian Hutchinson was top International Road Racer.
Standing ovations greeted two posthumous awards - There was the Special Recognition award for Flying Doctor John Hinds who lost his life following an accident at Skerries last year and Hall of Fame entrant, the late Owen McNally from Coleraine who was fatally injured at the 1999 Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod.