The shortlist for the esteemed Enkalon Irish Motorcyclist of the Year recognition has been whittled down to seven of the country’s top names ahead of the gala Adelaide Motorcycle Awards in Belfast.
Thousands of fans took part in an online poll to register their vote for their number one rider of 2012, who will be presented with the prestigious Joey Dunlop trophy at the sold-out event on January 18.
Carrick’s Alastair Seeley was the proud recipient of the coveted gong last year following his capture of the British Supersport crown for Northern Ireland’s Tyco Suzuki team.
Among the contenders is Clogher revelation Keith Farmer, who wrapped up the National Superstock 1000 Championship to repay team owner Paul Bird’s faith in him after the ex-Irish Supermoto star was offered a ride in Bird’s Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki outfit.
It was Farmer’s second consecutive British title success after the Ulsterman won the National 600 crown in 2011.
World Superbike stars Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty - both former winners of the Joey Dunlop trophy - have made the shortlist yet again.
Rea finished fifth overall in the championship standings for the Ten Kate Honda team during a busy year that also saw him granted a dream opportunity to replace the injured Casey Stoner in the factory Repsol Honda MotoGP squad.
He also enhanced his status with Honda as he became the first British rider to win the Suzuka 8-Hour race.
Toomebridge man Laverty finished one place behind Rea in the World Superbike standings in sixth position, picking up his first victory on the Aprilia RSV4 at Portimao in Portugal.
Laverty endured a tough start to his career at Aprilia following a heavy fall at Phillip Island in Australia but showed his true potential in the second part of the season after adapting to the RSV4 and overcoming a nigglesome electrical issue.
Also in contention for the award is Dubliner Jack Kennedy, who narrowly missed out on the British Supersport title for the Mar-Train Yamaha team, plus Graeme Irwin - the sole motocross rider to make the shortlist - who excelled in the MX2 series and also finished third in the Red Bull Pro National.
Road racing is represented by Ryan Farquhar and Michael Dunlop - two riders who made their fair share of the headlines last year.
Farquhar called time on his career following the death of his uncle, Trevor Ferguson, at the Manx Grand Prix in August, but prior to his announcement the Dungannon rider won the inaugural Supertwin races at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT before completing the set with victory at the Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod.
Dunlop, meanwhile, continues to make waves at the top level and claimed his third TT victory in the second Superport race on the Mountain course in June, when he also finished as the runner-up in the Superstock event behind John McGuinness.
‘Mighty Mike’ also completed a five-timer at the Southern 100 plus a Dundrod 150/Ulster Grand Prix treble in the Superstock and Superbike races in August.