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Michael will be rally big show attraction

By Robert Jones

Michael Dunlop is set to wow fans once again at the Blackhorse Northern Ireland Motorcycle Festival in his Ford Escort MK2 rally car.

Dunlop attended the annual motorcycling festival last year at the Eikon Exhibition Centre in Lisburn and put on a scintillating display in his rally car outside the venue.

The Ulster rider, who raised the outright lap record at the TT to almost 134mph in the Senior race last June, setting a new benchmark of 133.962mph on his second lap as he pitted for fuel - a staggering lap time of 16m 53.929s - will attend the festival again at the same Balmoral Park venue this Saturday and Sunday.

Billy Nutt, entering his 22nd year of promoting the biking spectacular, said Dunlop will prove a huge draw once again.

"Michael will return with his rally car and we're delighted to welcome him back," said Nutt.

"He put on a real show last year and it proved really popular with the fans, so anyone who may have missed out last time will have another chance to see him in action up close.

"He'll be there on the Saturday and Sunday and plus we have confirmed the Purple Helmets once again this year, so there will be plenty to see outside as well as inside and it promises to be terrific entertainment over the course of the weekend."

Dunlop, who also clinched a Superbike victory at the North West 200 last year and established a new outright lap record for the seaside course, has yet to officially announce his plans for 2017.

New Jackson Racing signing Lee Johnston has also been confirmed for the Festival and joins a star-studded guest list that includes four-time World Superbike champion and 'King of the Jungle' Carl Fogarty, plus North West 200 record holder Alastair Seeley.

The festival will run over three days from Friday, February 3 to Sunday, February 5 with Jonathan Rea's World Superbike titlke-winning Kawasake on of the main attractions.

Many of the new models launched by manufacturers for 2017 will be on display, and it is hoped Honda's all-new Fireblade will be on show along with the latest Kawasaki, BMW, Triumph, Suzuki, Yamaha, KTM and Harley Davidson machines.

The Motorcycle Racing Association (MRA) will again host the 'Motocross Village' while the Temple Club will run the David Jefferies Memorial Supermoto event outside the centre on the Saturday and Sunday.

The Northern Ireland Karting Association (NIKA) will also be represented along with the Motor Cycle Union of Ireland (MCUI).

Opening times are Friday (2pm-10pm); Saturday and Sunday (10am-5pm). Admission is 12 (senior citizens £6) and under 16s admitted free.

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