Fermanagh’s Melissa Kennedy received the Walter Rusk Memorial Cup for most improved road racer at the annual MCUI Ulster Centre awards night.
Held at the La Mon Hotel on Friday evening, a host of leading Northern Ireland racers attended the prize ceremony as their achievements in 2019 were honoured.
Kennedy, from Enniskillen, made history when she became the first female winner of an Irish National road race at the East Coast Festival at Killalane last September.
She narrowly edged out Paul Robinson protégé Sam Grief by four tenths of a second, while her fiancé, Gary Dunlop, joined her on the rostrum as he finished in third place.
The result was enough to give Melissa second place in the Irish Championship, with Dunlop clinching the title overall by 28 points.
Speaking to the News Letter at the time, she described her maiden roads success as ‘surreal’.
Kennedy said: “Maria Costello congratulated me and I got messages from Carolynn Sells and Suzi Perry. It’s just been overwhelming to have people like Maria and especially Carolynn messaging me – it really means something to me.”
Lisburn’s Carl Phillips, who dominated the Ulster Superbike Championship, and runaway Supersport champion Jason Lynn were also in attendance as they received their respective cups.
Ryan Fenton was presented with the Sam Kidd Trophy for Best Newcomer to Road Racing by MCUI Ulster Centre chairman John McClure.
There was also a special recognition for young prospect Gary Scott, who was presented with the David Wood Scholarship and Cup by Lee Wood.
Previous winners of the accolade include Lee Johnston, who won his maiden race at the Isle of Man TT in the Supersport class last year, plus Richard Kerr, Kia McGreevy, Eugene McManus and Scott Swann.
Castledawson teenager Scott grew up watching his father Ronnie and grandfather George competing in the Irish road races and short circuit meetings and has followed in their footsteps.
He also won the Enkalon Club’s Gary Morrow Perpetual Cup for Best Newcomer in the Moto3 class.
In his rookie season in 2018, Scott finished as the runner-up in the newly-formed Irish Minibike Championship BMW Autoparts Junior Gearbox 140cc class.
He made the step up to the short circuits last year and won four times in the Moto3 class at the Ulster Superbike Championship to win the title.
Scott also made his debut in England, competing in the 11th round of the British Motostar Championship at Donington Park.
This year, he is set to race in the British Talent Cup and the Davy Wood Scholarship will help fund his campaign.
Other winners included Derek Sheils (Sam McClements Memorial Cup) for most Irish Superbike road racing wins, Classic racing exponent Barry Davidson (Ralph Rensen Memorial Cup for Most Road Race Wins) and Vinny Brennan (Don Wilson Memorial Cup for Best Support Rider in Road Racing).
On Friday, the Irish Motorbike Awards will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast, when five-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea is set to be crowned Irish Motorcyclist of the Year for a fifth consecutive time.
Other star names confirmed include Peter Hickman, Eugene Laverty, Glenn Irwin, Davey Todd, Lee Johnston and Jack Kennedy.
A total of 12 awards will be presented on the night at the event, host by BBC Sport Northern Ireland’s Stephen Watson and BT Sport MotoGP commentator Keith Huewen.