Shortlist unveiled Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of Year award

Michael Dunlop at the Isle of Man TT in 2013
Michael Dunlop at the Isle of Man TT in 2013

Only a handful of tickets remain for Friday’s eagerly anticipated Adelaide Motorcycle Awards in Belfast.

The prestigious event at the Ramada Hotel has become one of the hottest tickets on the UK motorsport calendar and a host of stars are on the glittering guest list, including World Supersport champion Sam Lowes.

Ryan Farquhar is the current holder of the coveted Joey Dunlop trophy, which will be presented to the winner of the top accolade on the evening - the Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of the Year in association with Enkalon.

The final eight nominations for the main honour have been confirmed following a public vote and the input of a panel of judges chaired by Adrian Coates.

Two men stood out in 2013, with Michael Dunlop and Eugene Laverty staking their claim for the prized silverware on Friday after spectacular seasons.

Dunlop equalled Portadown man McCallen’s 1996 feat of four Isle of Man TT wins in a week as the 24-year-old from Ballymoney scaled new heights on the Mountain Course to boost his TT win tally to a magnificent seven.

However, the Ballymoney lad faces his stiffest opposition to be crowned Irish Motorcyclist of the Year for the first time from Laverty, who won nine races on his way to a brilliant runner-up finish in the World Superbike Championship.

Laverty’s haul of victories on the factory Aprilia was equalled only by eventual world champion Tom Sykes.

The duo are the bookies’ favourites, but the remaining six nominees also deserve the utmost credit for their performances last year.

They include Carrick’s Alastair Seeley, who went head to head with Stuart Easton in the British Supersport Championship before finishing in second place overall after a nerve-jangling final race at Brands Hatch on the Gearlink Kawasaki.

Seeley also won two races at the rain-lashed North West 200.

Marty Nutt from Castlerock wrapped up the Ducati 848 title, while Irishman Derek Sheils won the Adelaide Masters short circuit series and was crowned Irish road racing Superbike champion.

Women’s motocross star Natalie Kane triumphed at the British Grand Prix on her way to fourth place in the championship while young Castledawson rider Nico Mawhinney won the Irish Superbike Championship for the first time.

Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea - a World Superbike winner at Silverstone - is also among the candidates.

This year’s vote has attracted the biggest public response in the history of the event.

A total of 12 awards will be presented on the evening, including International Road Racer of the Year, Team of the Year, Short Circuit Rider of the Year and Race of the Year.