Fab five shortlisted for Race of the Year honour
A fabulous five red-hot races have been shortlisted for the coveted title of A.McLean Bookmakers Race of the Year this month at the prestigious Cornmarket Motorbike Awards in Belfast.
The star-studded bash will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Friday, January 26, when three-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea will be among the VIP guests.
The Race of the Year is always one of the most eagerly anticipated accolades on the night and fans can register their vote today for their top showdown from a memorable 2017 season.
In no particular order, the first race on the shortlist is the exhilarating feature Superbike race at the Ulster Grand Prix in August, which was won by veteran Kiwi Bruce Anstey on the trick Padgetts Honda RC213V-S.
The 48-year-old came out on top of a frenetic five-way battle involving Peter Hickman, Dean Harrison and Manx duo Conor Cummins and Dan Kneen.
Anstey narrowly got the verdict following a breath-taking final lap from Hickman, while Bradford man Harrison had the consolation of setting a new world lap record around the 7.4-mile Dundrod course of 134.614mph as he finished in third.
The second race features British Supersport champion Keith Farmer’s victory in the Sprint race at Knockhill last summer.
Farmer was locked in a duel with fellow Northern Ireland rider Andrew Irwin and timed his pass to perfection to snatch the lead at the final corner on the very last lap. Eglinton’s David Allingham took third with Dubliner Jack Kennedy coming home in fourth.
Race three in contention for the prized gong is the stunning showpiece Superbike race at the North West 200, which developed into a ding-dong confrontation between Carrickfergus men Alastair Seeley and Glenn Irwin.
Seeley had won four races to extend his record tally of Triangle wins to 21 heading into the big race of the day, but fellow British championship rider Irwin proved more than a match as he made his big bike roads debut on the PBM Ducati.
In an epic shootout, the lead changed hands many times as fans held their breath around the 8.9-mile course, but it was Irwin who held on for a famous win.
Ian Hutchinson finished a close third with Michael Dunlop – making his roads bow on the Bennetts Suzuki – next as the top four were covered by only 3.8 seconds.
The fourth race among the final selections is another encounter from the British Supersport Championship.
The Sprint race at Brands Hatch at the final round of the series in October involved eight riders in with a chance of taking victory.
In the end, two-time British champion Seeley was the first rider over the line on the Spirit Moto2 machine. However, with Seeley ineligible for points, Andrew Irwin was the championship race winner on the Gearlink Kawasaki.
It was Irwin’s maiden success in the class and he was made to work hard for it, with only 0.8 seconds separating the first eight riders over the line.
The final race on the shortlist focuses on Jonathan Rea’s World Superbike triumph in race two at Assen.
After a spat involving Welshman Chaz Davies the previous day, Rea put it behind him in style as he edged out his Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes on the sprint to the line to complete a double.
To cast your vote, check out the official Cornmarket Motorbike Awards Facebook page or Twitter handle, @BikeAwards.
In all, a dozen awards will be presented at the sold-out bash.
Superbike champion Rea is the overwhelming favourite to win the main award – Irish Motorcyclist of the Year – for the third successive year. The 30-year-old will take a break from testing in Spain to attend the event.