Armoy set for Guy v Dunlops battle
The SGS International Armoy Road Races, which get under way today, have received another major boost with news that Tyco BMW's Guy Martin will ride in the Supersport races for the Moneymore-based team.
The Lincolnshire ace and cult TV figure will campaign the TAS Racing Supersport machine that Alastair Seeley took to two race wins at the Vauxhall International North West 200 back in May.
Martin was a Supersport winner on similar machinery last year when Hector and Philip Neill's squad were running factory-supported Suzuki bikes, and if we add in a B.E Racing Supertwin that Martin has intimated he may well ride, then it's going to be a busy weekend for the truck mechanic.
William Dunlop was also a Supersport race winner last year on a TAS Racing Suzuki, but this time around he will be looking to get one over on his high-profile team-mate and other main rivals as he aims to extend his lead in the Irish Supersport Championship.
Dunlop's five race wins so far this season in the Supersport class have come on Chris Dowd's CD/IC Racing Yamaha, giving him a healthy 38-point championship lead over Mullingar's Derek McGee.
McGee will undoubtedly feature this weekend at Armoy in the Supersport class, as will Ballymoney's Seamus Elliott - who is third in the current standings, following his two class wins at the Southern 100.
But this year's will indeed provide Dunlop with his stiffest test to date - as Martin and his brother Michael are set to be in attendance.
Michael Dunlop, an 11-time TT winner, has had a low-key season by his usual high standards, and despite strong rumours that we may well see him on a Smiths Triumph at the Ulster Grand Prix, I fully expect him to line up on a Hunts' Honda Supersport bike at Armoy.
William also tops the table in the Irish Superbike Championship standings on the roads with Tyco BMW, but will have to work hard if he's to post his second big bike win of the season and outshine his Tyco BMW team-mate Martin and brother Michael, who will be MD Racing/Buildbase BMW mounted.
Bangor-based team BikeBitsNI Kawasaki will be quietly confident of causing an upset, especially as their racer Derek Sheils, who is based in Dublin, has posted two wins so far this year on the national scene.
McGee is another who will be gunning for a podium finish or two as he looks to reduce William's 14-point championship lead in the Superbike class, but he will unquestionably have one eye on a fifth 650cc Supertwin victory this season in top-class company.
McGee has pretty much wrapped up the Supertwin title for 2015 already, but will have more than Czech rider Michal Dokoupil and Conor Behan to contend with at Armoy, as the KMR Kawasaki big guns Ryan Farquhar and Jeremy McWilliams will start as clear favourites.
The Race of Legends has now established itself as one of Ireland's leading road races, firmly manifest by NPE Media and Channel 4's commitment to air a one-hour highlights programme for the second year running.
Speaking of the coverage, Clerk of the Course Bill Kennedy said: "Our local fans will be able to experience all the action from the Armoy Races on Sunday, August 9, 2015 from 7:30am to 8:30am on Channel 4, which is the feather in the cap for the event and our sponsors."
Roads close around Armoy today for qualifying from 12.30pm, culminating with the opening Supersport race.
Tomorrow's highly-anticipated 11-race programme is scheduled to get under way at 11.00am, with the roads closing to the public from 10.00am.