Huge crowds are expected to invade the sleepy Co Antrim village of Armoy this weekend for the inaugural Armoy Road Races billed as the ‘Race of Legends’ in memory of the Armoy Armada a group of racing motorcyclists from the mid-70s led by Joey Dunlop, his brother Jim, brother-in-law Mervyn Robinson and Frank Kennedy who all came from the local area.
Bill Kennedy, brother of Frank, is the driving force behind the Armoy races, the first all-new road race in the North of Ireland in fifty years and the Clerk of the Course for the event commented: “This venture has been a few years in the planning stages, but now it is ready for the action to start.
“We hope it will be a fitting tribute to the Armoy Armada who used these roads to test their race bikes, unofficially of course all those years ago.
“We are indebted to a huge number of people in getting this venture off the ground and I am pleased with the co-operation we have received from all the local people in the vicinity of the circuit.”
Ryan Farquhar heads the entry list and has dominated the national road race scene this season having taken the chequered flag first on 49 occasions not only here in Ireland but also at Scarborough and the Southern 100 in the Isle of Man.
He is already crowned Irish champion in the Supertwins and Senior classes and has also closed to within five victories of the all-time Irish national road race record number of 119 wins currently held by the late Joey Dunlop following his four wins at last week’s Mid Antrim 150.
A £15,000 prize fund is on offer this weekend and the Coleraine Skip Hire and Recycling backed event has attracted probably the strongest entry that a national road race has seen this season including English visitors Guy Martin, Carl Rennie and Alan Jackson together with Scottish rider Keith Amor, who has pushed Farquhar hard for most of the season, while the local stars include John Burrows, Adrian Archibald and of the course the Dunlop brothers William and Michael plus their cousin Sam.
The Dunlops will have all eyes on them this weekend on what is effectively their local course but William said, “We’re supposed to know this place like the back of our hand, but I have only been around the three-mile circuit a couple of times in the car.
“Like everyone else it will be a brand new circuit for me and we’ll just take it as it comes over the weekend. I had a good run at the Mid Antrim last week and I will just try to keep it going at Armoy.”
Farquhar said: “It is good to get a new road race up and running in Northern Ireland.
“I have been having a tremendous season and I don’t know when the run will end but hopefully it will keep going for a few races yet and we can maybe get a win here at Armoy on what should be a fairly fast circuit.
“There are a few quick guys in the field here, but we’ll jut get the head down from the start and see where it takes me.”
Practice was due to take place at Armoy this afternoon with roads closing at 2.30pm while for tomorrow’s 11-race multi-sponsored programme roads close at 10am.