Eugene Laverty has been crowned Adelaide Irish Motorcyclist of the Year for a second time, having previously won in 2010. The Toomebridge rider, who finished runner-up in 2013’s World Superbike Championship, beat off stiff competition from Michael Dunlop to be presented with the Joey Dunlop trophy.
Michael Dunlop, who had an incredible year on the roads but announced that he will not be racing in 2014, did not leave empty handed after being awarded the International Road Racer of the Year and National Road Racer of the Year accolades. On Friday morning, before the ceremony, he had been awarded the Freedom of Ballymoney. Both his dad – Robert Dunlop – and Uncle Joey Dunlop had been awarded the honour in 2007 and 1993 respectively.
Other winners at the gala event – held at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Belfast – included Nico Mawhinney, Mar-Train Racing, and Ian Lougher.
Lougher, who retired from road racing at the end of last season, has had a long and illustrious career, including multiple wins at the Isle of Man TT, North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix. He received the Special Recognition award on the night. Alan Irwin, who has won numerous Irish Short Circuit championships with over 300 wins to his name, was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Nico Mawhinney, who came in third in the race for Irish Motorcyclist of the Year, was awarded the Red Bull Young Rider of the Year trophy, having won the Irish Superbike championship in 2013. Natalie Kane, who races in motocross, won the Off Road Rider of the Year award while Alastair Seeley picked up the Black Horse Best Rider on UK and Ireland Circuits prize.
Elsewhere, British Supersport champions Mar-Train Racing were named Team of the Year with their rider Stuart Easton bringing home the award for Race of the Year, for his battle with Seeley at Brands Hatch for the Supersport championship.
Other winners on the night included Marty Nutt for Outstanding Achievement; and Chaplains Noel Agnew, Edwin Ewart and John Kilpatrick for Services to Motorcycling.
The event, which was compered by Stephen Watson and Jackie Fullerton, officially marks the end of the 2013 season, with preparations well under way for the year ahead.
Laverty, who was unable to attend the event, was testing in Almeria Spain with new team Crescent Suzuki. Stephen Watson travelled to Monaco to present him with his award.
“It’s fantastic to win this award,” Laverty said. “This is a huge accolade in Irish motorcycle racing – the one we all want to get. Joey [Dunlop] was a hero of mine when I was growing up. I think the Joey Dunlop helmet is synonymous with racing in Ireland nowadays and the trophy means so much.”
Michael Dunlop, who announced at the end of last season that he would be sitting this year out if he could not find a suitable deal, revealed at the awards that he would be testing a bike next week.
“If I’m going to be racing everything has to be right – I want to be able to enjoy myself again,” Dunlop said. “I’m testing a bike next week and if it all goes right, and I enjoy it then I’ll come back this year, but at this moment in time I won’t be racing.”
Another racer who recently confirmed their 2014 plans is Jamie Hamilton, who enjoyed a successful year in 2013, becoming Irish Supertwins and Supersport champion. He split from Ryan Farquhar and KMR Kawasaki at the end of last year and has since announced that he will be racing Stewart Smith’s supertwins bike (previously ridden by Dean Harrison who is racing with Mar-Train in 2014) and John Duggan’s 600.