Dunlop savours hat-trick at Armoy race of legends
Tyco Suzuki duo William Dunlop and Guy Martin set a marker down in last night’s opening contest at the Armoy Race of Legends, finishing first and second respectively in the Parker Car Transport Supersport encounter.
The victory, and fastest lap, is Dunlop’s third consecutive national road racing Supersport win since coming back from injury at the TT, having taken victories at both Skerries and Walderstown prior to this weekend’s Armoy event.
Dunlop and Martin circulated together throughout the six-lap encounter with Scottish ace Keith Amor five seconds adrift in third on the Rig Deluge Honda.
Michael Dunlop was fourth, a further three seconds behind Amor, with Dan Kneen fifth and James Cowton sixth.
In today’s Superbike class, Michael Dunlop will be the man to beat on his MD Racing BMW S1000RR after topping the qualifying timesheets in blistering hot conditions yesterday.
Dunlop’s lap time of 103.782mph was just a smidgen ahead of the Tyco Suzuki duo of his brother William and the ever-popular crowd-puller Guy Martin. Dunlop Junior recorded a lap speed of 103.688mph, with Martin on 103.269mph.
All three men circulated together in their qualifying group but the big danger man to the aforementioned trio will be Manxman Dan Kneen on the Cookstown B.E Racing Suzuki.
Kneen was also in the 103mph bracket on his Superbike [103.096mph] setting up a potentially mouth-watering four-way battle for supremacy in today’s Senior Open [race 5] and Race of Legends, which over 8 laps, is the final race on the programme.
A special tribute to the famous Armoy Armada took place yesterday prior to practice and qualifying at the iconic Dark Hedges near Stranocum. The famous 1970s road-racing quartet included Joey and Jim Dunlop, Mervyn Robinson and Frank Kennedy who all hailed from the Co Antrim village.
Jim Dunlop, the only surviving member of the foursome, joined Paul Robinson, the son of Mervyn, William Dunlop, Joey's nephew and Bill Kennedy, the brother of Frank, to ride their original race bikes through the Dark Hedges.
“Sitting warming up the old bike this morning brought back a lot of memories,” said an emotional Jim Dunlop, brother of the late Joey and Robert Dunlop.
It had been over 30 years since Jim rode the Rea Racing 350cc Yamsel that he raced to wins at Aghadowey, Kirkistown and St Angelo. His nephew, Paul, rode the Hugh O'Kane 350cc Yamsel that his father Mervyn raced to numerous Irish National road race wins in the ’70s and Paul's cousin William was mounted on the Shell Gemini 250cc Honda that his uncle Joey won his 12th TT on in 1988. Bill Kennedy, now Clerk of Course at Armoy, rode a RG500 Suzuki as ridden by his brother Frank.
Roads close at 10am for a scheduled 11-race programme today and highlights of the event and the Armoy Armada tribute ride will be on Channel 4 at 8am on August 9.