Eugene Laverty wins Irish Motorcyclist of Year award

Eugene Laverty has been named as the Enkalon Irish Motorcyclist of the Year at the annual Adelaide Motorcycle Awards night in Belfast.

The Toomebridge rider won the trophy for a second time for nine race wins and finishing second overall in last year's World Superbike Championship.

Michael Dunlop won the International Road Racer of the Year and National Road Racer of the Year awards.

The Ballymoney man secured four wins at the Isle of Man TT in June.

Laverty expressed his delight and surprise after being presented with the Joey Dunlop Memorial Trophy at his home in Monaco.

"I am really shocked to receive the Joey Dunlop trophy this year as I faced some stiff competition, especially Michael Dunlop. What he did on the roads this year was superb - I have so much respect for him," said the 24-year-old.

Michael Dunlop won the International Road Racer and National Road Racer  awards

Michael Dunlop won the International Road Racer and National Road Racer awards

"This trophy means so much to me. Joey Dunlop was the reason I took up racing - the man I wanted to go and see when I was growing up, he's a true hero of mine.

"To have this trophy flown to me at my home in Monaco was something really special and something I will never forget.

"I am so sorry I couldn't be in Belfast but I am testing in Portugal with my new Suzuki team - and want to be ready to try and win the World Superbike Championship this season.

"Joey Dunlop was Northern Ireland's last World Champion and I want to be the next. I gave it my best shot last season."

Irish Superbike champion Nico Mawhinney was chosen as the Young Rider of the Year while the Team of the Year went to the Lisburn-based Mar-Train Racing outfit, with whom Stuart Easton won the British Supersport championship.

The final race of that series, which saw Easton go head to head with Alastair Seeley for the 600cc crown, was selected as Race of the Year.

Ian Lougher, who last year announced his retirement from racing after 30 years of competition, collected a Special Recognition Award and Castlerock man Marty Nutt lifted an Outstanding Achievement Award after winning the Ducati Challenge championship.

Laverty made it a double on the night by being named Best Short Circuit Rider, while young female motocross star Natalie Kane was the Off Road Rider of the Year.

Former Irish road race and short circuit champion Alan Irwin was inducted into the Hall of Fame, while Seeley was awarded Best Rider on UK and Ireland circuits.

Race chaplains Noel Agnew, John Kilpatrick and Edwin Ewart were recognised for their Services to Motorcycling.