Michael Dunlop was the star of yesterday evening’s qualifying sessions for today’s 50th Tandragee 100 road race.
In near perfect conditions the 21-year old Ballymoney rider topped the supersport 600cc and 250cc timesheets, having to settle for second place on the 125cc grid a mere eight-one hundredths of a second behind older brother William.
Both have won a race each recently over the Co. Armagh circuit, William winning the 2007 250cc race and Michael the same race a year ago.
However it is pole position in the supersport class that had everyone talking last night, where Michael took the Street Sweep Yamaha around the 5.34mile Co. Armagh circuit at a speed of 102.258mph, half a second ahead of Dungannon’s Ryan Farquhar and Scotsman Keith Amor, the winner at Cookstown last week.
William Dunlop, Adrian Archibald and former Manx Grand Prix winner Derek Brien completed the top six.
A week ago at Cookstown Michael rode in Farquhar’s wheel tracks in this particular class as they battled for second and third and another three-way battle between Dunlop, Amor and Farquhar is on the cards today.
If Dunlop was to transfer his pole position into a race victory it would be his first four-stroke national road race win and cement his position as the ‘young gun’ challenging the established stars of the road race scene in the feature classes, having won the 125 and 250cc Irish Road Race championships last year and finishing fourth in the Supersport class.
The Dunlop’s look to have the two-stroke races at their mercy and their battles should be fascinating as each looks to gain the upper hand in the championship chase. Last week at Cookstown, William beat Michael by a whisker in the 250cc race while Michael cakewalked the 125cc race, which William did not contest and today’s battles should be intriguing to say the least.
Ryan Farquhar chasing his sixth Tandragee 100 victory topped the superbike leader-board with a speed of 102.434mph just a tenth of a second ahead of Adrian Archibald who will be looking to make it win number seven around the demanding venue, while Amor starting third on the grid will be looking to spoil the party. William Dunlop, Davy Morgan and Michael Dunlop round out the top six from qualifying.
Farquhar, a treble winner at Cookstown last week, also starts from pole position in the Supertwins class where near neighbour John Burrows, making his debut in this particular class, is in second place on the grid with Des Butler third. Roads close this morning at 10am with the first race scheduled for 11am.