William just edges thrilling battle of the Dunlop brothers
William Dunlop drew first blood at this year's Armoy Road Races, taking a phenomenal First4Printing Supersport race victory last night at the SGS International-backed event by just seven thousandths of a second over his brother Michael.
Riding his Ivan Curran Racing Yamaha R6, William Dunlop hit the front on the opening lap and was never headed, but his brother Michael - who was fifth on the opening lap - worked his way through the pack and almost stole in for the win.
Mullingar's Derek McGee set the pole position time during practice, but for whatever reason didn't start the race.
The main challenge for new father William Dunlop came from the Cookstown B.E Racing Honda of Derek Sheils.
The big Dubliner kept William's IC Racing Yamaha in his sights, but with a couple of laps to go, it was Michael's MD Racing Yamaha which became the hunter, chipping away at a two second deficit.
On the sixth and final lap he had it down to under a second, but hard as he tried - and having set the fastest lap of the race on the penultimate lap around the three-mile circuit - his brother William held on for his third consecutive Friday night Supersport top step at Armoy.
As expected, Michael Dunlop topped the Superbike qualifying session on his MD Racing BMW, but only a second covered the top four of Dunlop, Sheils, McGee - on a 600! - and William Dunlop.
More significant is the fact that Sheils, the only man to topple Dunlop in an Open class race this season, was just 2/100ths of a second down on Michael in qualifying.
This sets up a mouth-watering battle today in the Superbike and Race of Legends grand final.
Mar-Train Racing's Dan Kneen pushed Tim Martin's R1M Yamaha into fifth in qualifying and the Manxman will have a grandstand seat to pounce should the leading contenders falter.
Christian Elkin was in a class of his own during Moto3/125GP qualifying, putting almost two seconds into Magherafelt's Paul Jordan.
Riding one of only two Moto3 machines in the class, Elkin's Bob Wylie Racing 250cc Honda should see him take a comfortable victory, leaving Jordan, Adam McLean and Sam Wilson to dispute the 125cc honours.
Gary Dunlop, son of the late great Joey, qualified eighth on the William Dunlop Racing Honda, with Sam Dunlop in 10th spot on the grid aboard his Glover Honda.
The second of the Moto3 machines, with Justin Waring on board, qualified in fifth place.
A huge crowd is expected for today's 10-race programme, with roads closing from 10am through to 7.30pm at the latest.