William Dunlop first out of the blocks
Dunlop triumphs to set scene for legendary contest
William Dunlop got his Armoy weekend off to the perfect start when he won the seven-lap First4Printing Supersport race comfortably riding the Caffrey International backed Chris Dowd Ivan Curran R6 Yamaha.
Dunlop, who was fastest in qualifying, set the fastest lap of the race at 102.994mph on lap five to pull well clear of a terrific scrap for second involving Guy Martin and Dean Harrison.
Martin riding the TAS Suzuki for the first time got the better of Harrison to clinch the runner-up spot almost three-and-a-half seconds behind Dunlop, but less than half-a-second ahead of the Mar-Train Yamaha.
Some 10 seconds behind Harrison, an exciting three-way scrap for fourth between Keith Amor, Derek McGee and Derek Sheils went all the way to the chequered flag with Amor edging home a tenth-of-a-second ahead of McGee with Sheils rounding out the top six less than half-a-second behind his fellow Southern Irish rider.
Ballymoney S100 debut winner Seamus Elliott came home in seventh position seven seconds ahead of a titanic struggle for eighth that saw Andy Lawson snatch the position from James Cowton by two-hundredths of a second.
Armoy Road Races may only be running seven years, but they have quickly became established as one of the leading events on the Irish racing calendar and the entry received for today's races is on par with the best in the country.
Heading that entry for the SGS International Race of Legends meeting are the Dunlop brothers William and Michael who have won no less than 19 races (William 9 and Michael 11) between them on what is their home circuit.
They will not have it all their own way today, however.
Double winner from last year Guy Martin, the recent S100 Solo Champion riding a variety of machines - Tyco BMW, TAS Suzuki and Cookstown BE Supertwin Kawasaki, Dean Harrison also a S100 winner on his Mar-Train Yamaha, Ryan Farquhar chasing win number 12 around the three-mile picturesque circuit in rural North Antrim, ex-GP competitor Jeremy McWilliams riding in Supertwins, top Southern riders Derek McGee and Derek Sheils, James Cowton and Seamus Elliott are all looking for podium finishes.
Michael Dunlop of course is now mounted on his own MD Racing Superstock BMW and if he is to claim the Race of Legends for the fifth consecutive time he will have his work cut out coming from row two on the grid behind the Tyco BMW's of William and Martin and the BikeBitsNI Kawasaki of Sheils.
With no Supersport machine Michael rides for John Burrows in the 250GP race but will come under pressure from local lads Sam Wilson riding Joey's Bar Honda and Neil Kernohan.
McWilliams and Farquhar head the Supertwin action, but watch for Martin having his first ride in the class on the Cookstown BE Kawasaki while Derek McGee has been the man to beat in the Irish road race championship this season.
These four plus Conor Behan, Cowton, Paul Jordan and Christian Elkin will not let them have it all their own way.
Roads close at 10am followed by a programme of 11 races culminating with the Race of Legends.
The fans who flock to Armoy are set for a great day of action.
RESULT: First4Printing Supersport Race: 1st W. Dunlop avg speed 101.373mph, 2nd G. Martin 100.904, 3rd D. Harrison 100.844, 4th K. Amor 99.465, 5th D. McGee 99.449, 6th D. Sheils 99.390
Fastest Lap: Dunlop on L5 1m 45.140secs, 102.994mph