Dunlop brothers make it an Armoy day to savour
The souvenir programme for the fifth running of the Armoy Road Races had the Dunlop brothers Michael and William adorning the front cover and it was appropriate that both scored double success at what is effectively their home event in the heart of pure road racing country made famous by the renowned exploits of the Armoy Armada in the mid-70's.
Michael put in an awesome performance, picking up a haul of trophies and a 'fair few quid' with a double Superbike victory including the RiverRidge Recycling Race of Legends feature, plus rewriting the record books with a new absolute lap record of 106.812mph for the spectacular 3-mile Armoy course.
He also set a new Supersport lap record of 103.191mph on his way to finishing second to William in that race - an ideal workout for the forthcoming Ulster Grand Prix.
William also won the 250GP race in which Michael Sweeney set a new class lap record on his way to finishing third behind Sam Wilson.
However it was William's Supersport success that caught the eye, taking the lead from Guy Martin on lap two and breaking the lap record twice as he led Michael by over three seconds on lap four of seven, with Martin relegated to third.
Michael was closing the gap on his brother and, breaking William's earlier lap record on the final lap, he crossed the finish line just over half a second in arrears.
William said: "I knew Michael was catching me and that I had enough in hand to win the race. This was a new engine prepared for the CD Racing Milwaukee Yamaha in Germany and with the Ulster Grand Prix a fortnight away I didn't want to abuse it too much, doing just enough to pull a good gap and then bring it home in front."
Tyco Suzuki ace Martin came to the Dunlop back yard confident of gatecrashing the party, but had to settle for a second, third and fourth positions, the latter particularly impressive as he came from taking the slip road at the first chicane on the opening lap of the Race of Legends and had to fight his way from ninth position to fourth, closing rapidly on third place and just running out of laps.
Much was made of former Moto GP veteran Jeremy McWilliams' first National Road Race appearance and the 49-year old did not disappoint the huge crowd as he fought tooth and nail with Jamie Hamilton for the Supertwin race victory.
Despite setting a new lap record of 97.070mph for the class, McWilliams was forced to settle for second behind the young man over half his age with less than a machine length separating the two Kawasakis, both prepared by Ryan Farquhar, at the chequered flag.
When asked if this appearance meant he was going to contest every road race, McWilliams, a North West winner in May, said: "Not a chance. I'm just doing what makes me happy and it was after enjoying my parade laps around here last year that I thought I might quite like to do the race. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the outing and young Jamie rode a terrific race."
In all, nine new lap records were set in the ideal conditions with the Junior and Senior support races real thrillers as young stars of the future Mark Hanna and circuit newcomer Conor Behan were involved in two spectacular encounters with Hanna beating his rival by a tenth of a second with a new class lap record in the junior event and Behan retaliating to win the senior class by half a bike length from Hanna and also setting a new lap record.
Another newcomer, Christian Elkin, a former British 125GP champion, rode Bob Wylie's Moto3 Honda to a comfortable victory in the Moto3 race, while there were victories for Andy Farrell, Barry Davidson and Robert McCrum in the 11 race programme that the Armoy Club deserve credit for completing following Friday evening's practice washout.
The club ran 11 races like clockwork, five morning practice sessions, parade laps and sidecar demonstrations, all completed before 5.30pm.
The sidecar demonstration was unique to Armoy with world champion and TT winner Tim Reeves and TT winning passenger Dan Sayle putting on a superb display; the first sidecar to put in laps around the picturesque track ably supported by John Clarke and his passenger.