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Rea, Laverty on Joey Dunlop trophy shortlist
8 January 2013
The prestigious Joey Dunlop trophy will be presented during a star-studded awards evening in Belfast next Friday.
The coveted accolade will be handed over to the Enkalon Irish Motorcyclist of the Year for 2012, as voted for by the public.
A final shortlist of seven of Ireland's top riders nominated for the gong includes World Superbike duo Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty, roads heavyweights Ryan Farquhar and Michael Dunlop, British championship riders Keith Farmer and Jack Kennedy plus motocross rider Graeme Irwin.
Last year, the award was won by Alastair Seeley after he was crowned British Supersport champion.
Honda star Rea – like Laverty, a former winner of the award – finished fifth overall in the World Superbike Championship for the Ten Kate team last season.
The Ulsterman also enjoyed a stint in the Repsol Honda MotoGP team after being drafted in as a replacement for the injured Casey Stoner, finishing eighth and seventh and Misano and Aragon respectively.
Rea also had the honour of becoming the first British rider to win the Suzuka Eight Hours race in Japan during a hectic campaign.
Laverty ended his maiden season on the works Aprilia RSV4 one place behind Rea in the standings in sixth position.
He won his first race for the Italian team at Portimao in Portugal and takes over as Aprilia's number one rider this year following the retirement of reigning world champion Max Biaggi.
Keith Farmer, who will partner Shane Byrne in the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team in the British Superbike Championship this year, also holds solid claims for the top award.
Farmer clinched his second successive title in 2012 in the National Superstock 1000 series following his success the previous season in the Superstock 600 class.
Dublin rider Kennedy narrowly missed out on the British Supersport crown after a dramatic end to the championship at Brands Hatch, when machine trouble ended his hopes after key rival Glen Richards had crashed out of contention.
In road racing, Michael Dunlop won his third race at the Isle of Man TT in the second Supersport event and also finished as the runner-up in the Superstock race.
Dunlop won five races at the Southern 100 and added another hat-trick of victories in the Superbike and Superstock classes at the Dundrod 150 and Ulster Grand Prix meeting in August.
Arch-rival Farquhar, who retired from racing following the death of his uncle in an accident at the Manx Grand Prix, won the inaugural Supertwin events at the North West 200 and TT before completing a clean sweep of the international races with another success on his Kawasaki ER6 at the Ulster Grand Prix.
The sole motocross rider on the shortlist, Graeme Irwin, excelled in the MX2 series and finished third in the Red Bull Pro National.
The awards night in Belfast has developed into one of the sport's biggest dates on the motorcycling calendar in the UK, attended by a glittering cast list of riders and industry big-hitters.