Michael Dunlop lifts Joey trophy after scooping Rider of Year crown

Michael Dunlop won the Joey Dunlop Trophy after being named the Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of the Year in Belfast last night
Michael Dunlop won the Joey Dunlop Trophy after being named the Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of the Year in Belfast last night

Michael Dunlop emulated his father Robert and uncle Joey after being named the 2014 Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of the Year in Belfast on Friday night.

The 11-times Isle of Man TT winner fended off stiff opposition from World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea to clinch the top accolade for the first time, presented in association with the Enkalon Club, at the Ramada Plaza Hotel.

Dunlop’s dad Robert was a two-time winner of the recognition, while his uncle Joey earned the title eight times.

The new Milwaukee Yamaha rider edged out Rea based on the number of votes cast by the public after the judging panel could not be split.

Thousands registered their selection via a special online poll in the biggest vote yet, with Dunlop capturing 26.5 per cent of the votes to deny Rea.

Carrick man Alastair Seeley came in third out of the seven nominated riders, which included last year’s winner Eugene Laverty and his brother Michael, Glenn Irwin and Jack Kennedy.

Dunlop made history in 2014 after becoming the first rider to chalk up consecutive four-timers at the Isle of Man TT and has now won 11 times on the Mountain Course since his debut in 2007.

Dunlop also won the main Superbike and Superstock events at the North West 200 to underline his international success and it was no surprise to see him also crowned the IFS International Road Racer of the Year last night.

Rea – who has joined Kawasaki for 2015 alongside Tom Sykes – finished third in the World Superbike Championship on the Ten Kate Honda last year, winning four races during the season.

His superb performance was recognised at the gala ceremony where Rea received the Black Horse Short Circuit Rider of the Year award, while Seeley was named as Black Horse Best Rider on UK and Ireland Circuits.

Seeley finished as the runner-up in the British Supersport Championship in 2014 for Northern Ireland team Mar-Train Racing, winning eight races along the way. The 35-year-old also added another two wins to his tally at the North West 200 in the Superstock and Supersport classes.

William Dunlop also took centre stage after his nail-biting Superbike victory over brother Michael at the North West 200 was chosen as the A. McLean Bookmakers Race of the Year.

The 29-year-old pounced at the Juniper Chicane on the final lap to snatch victory from Michael’s grasp in one of the most exciting finishes to a Superbike race in recent history.

The race received 29 per cent of the public vote to secure the award from Dan Kneen’s breath-taking Ulster Grand Prix win in the Superstock race over Dean Harrison (21 per cent) and Glenn Irwin’s maiden British Supersport win in tricky conditions at Brands Hatch (20 per cent).

Former racer John Burrows was all smiles after his B.E. Racing team picked up the Belfast Telegraph Team of the Year gong following a remarkable season that saw Kneen win a haul of Irish national Superbike races to scoop the title. Kneen also earned the team’s first ever international triumph in the Ulster GP Superstock race.

Motorcycle legend Tom Herron was inducted into the Beleek Hall of Fame and his widow Andrea Coleman received a standing ovation as she accepted the special honour last night.

Andy Reid, who will ride for Keith Flint’s Team Traction Control outfit in the British Supersport class this year, was a popular winner of the Red Bull Young Rider of the Year award.