Voting is open for the glittering Cornmarket 2015 Irish Motorcyclist of the Year Awards, which will take place at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Belfast on Friday, January 29.
The overall winner will receive the prestigious Joey Dunlop Trophy at the gala evening, which is one of the most eagerly awaited events on the motorcycling calendar.
World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea is the red-hot favourite to lift the coveted silverware after becoming Northern Ireland’s fourth ever motorcycling world title holder along with Joey Dunlop, Brian Reid and Ralph Bryans.
The factory Kawasaki rider destroyed his rivals this season to wrap up the championship in dominant fashion and although the Ballyclare man is a cert for the main award – held in association with the Enkalon Club – he joins a star-studded list of 20 nominees from all disciplines of the sport selected as contenders for one of the most sought-after accolades in the sport.
The winner will be decided by a special online public vote, which can be accessed online at www.enterprise.questionpro.com/a/TakeSurvey?id=4370177
Rea’s opposition includes Ballinamallard’s Josh Elliott, who secured the British Superstock 1000 title, plus international road racing star Lee Johnston, who scaled the top step at the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix.
Alastair Seeley made history when he equalled Robert Dunlop’s all-time record of 15 wins at the North West 200 in May and finished as the runner-up in the Superstock 1000 series, while Andy Reid – the 2014 Young Rider of the Year – showed his potential with a debut victory in the British Supersport Championship at Oulton Park.
The Laverty brothers, Michael and Eugene, are also on the shortlist after competing in the British Superbike and MotoGP championships respectively this year and are joined by another set of famous racing brothers, with Glenn Irwin nominated for his success in the British Supersport class and at the North West and Ulster Grand Prix and his brother Graeme finishing an excellent sixth in the British Motocross MX1 Championship.
A third set of brothers among the nominees includes road racing top guns William and Michael Dunlop, with the Irish Short Circuit scene represented by Ulster, Irish and Adelaide Masters champion Robert English and Ryan Rainey, who won the Irish Superbike title after a break of almost eight years away from the sport.
Other riders chasing the public’s vote include Martin Barr, Dean Colhoun Glenn McCormick, Robert Hamilton, Alistair Kirk, Derek McGee and Derek Sheils.
The result will be overseen by an expert panel of judges chaired by former British Champion Adrian Coates.
A dozen gongs will be presented and the hotly-contested accolades at the black-tie bash include Road Racer of the Year, Team of the Year, Short Circuit Rider of the Year, Hall of Fame and Race of Year.
Coates said: “Last year we had a massive vote topped by Michael Dunlop and this year we are preparing for even better.
“I would urge all bike fans to log on and register their vote for their favourite rider as we whittle the final shortlist down to six.”
The event is sold out, but you can be placed on a waiting list by emailing email@example.com, or phoning 07584058810.
The full list of nominees is: