Tomorrow may see only the third running of the Coleraine Skip Hire Armoy Road Races, but already the Race of Legends event has attained the status of being one of the top events on the Irish national calendar.
Once again a quality line-up of top class riders is set to tackle the picturesque three-mile circuit once described by international road racer Guy Martin as: “One of the best I have ever ridden on. It has everything; fast sweeping bends, big jumps and quick straights.”
Relentless Suzuki by TAS rider Martin is among the entry at Armoy and after finishing four times on the podium at the TT back in June he will be among the front runners tomorrow when he renews his rivalries with William and Michael Dunlop following their recent battles during the Southern 100.
The Dunlops have swept all before them this month, taking a remarkable 23 wins between them; William winning 14 times and Michael nine.
The battling brothers have lit up the Irish roads with their high-speed duels the length and the breadth of the country as well as on the Isle of Man during the Southern 100.
And now on home turf the Wilson Craig/Delaney/MD Maverick Hondas of William and Street Sweep machines of Michael will be favourites to add to their two wins each in front of their ardent local supporters, who fondly remember the racing exploits of the Armoy Armada back in the 1970s.
Returning to the local scene at Armoy is last week’s winner at the Cock O’ The North in Scarborough, Ryan Farquhar, the most successful rider ever on Irish roads.
His last Irish appearance came last month at the Bush Road Races where he rode to five sensational wins and having ridden to seven in the last two years at Armoy a battle royale is on the cards between Martin, the Dunlops and Farquhar.
That should set racing the pulses of the expected record crowds.
Among those keen to mix it with the favourites tomorrow will be John Burrows, Adrian Archibald, Davy Morgan, Derek Sheils, Michael Pearson, Wayne Hamilton — who won the opening race at the first ever Armoy meeting in 2009 — and Paul Robinson, who will be aiming to get the better of William Dunlop in the two-stroke events.
Clerk of the Course Bill Kennedy said: “We have a bumper entry that includes almost 50 newcomers.
“We have the leading riders in the country competing and high calibre newcomers like TT and British Championship riders Ben Wylie and Steve Mercer plus Daniel Frear and Alan Jackson. It should be an exciting day’s racing come Saturday.”
Roads close for practice and qualifying this afternoon at 2.30pm.
Tomorrow roads close at 10am for a 10-race programme preceded by a Parade Lap which includes a TAS Suzuki previously ridden by David Jefferies before his TT death in 2003.