Dunlop's on a mission to battle the top order in Armoy
Dean Harrison, five-time winner at this year’s Southern 100, would have been a great addition to this weekend’s Armoy Road races, but with Solo Champion Guy Martin in attendance, along with Tyco Suzuki team-mate William Dunlop — not forgetting 11-time TT winner Michael Dunlop — we are in for a treat of high-speed action at the Armoy Race of Legends tomorrow and Saturday.
Yorkshireman Harrison is the man in form, having recording a glut of victories for both Mar-Train Racing and RC Express Kawasaki during July. But what Clerk of the Course Bill Kennedy and his team have planned for the RiverRidge Recycling sponsored event is on a par with many international events.
Despite not having his tricked up TT winning BMW Superbike at Armoy, or the use of Stuart Hicken’s British Superbike winning Buildbase version, Michael Dunlop will certainly not be underpowered on his own MD Racing Superstock S1000RR German machine.
The Ballymoney man will be expected to take the fight to the Tyco Suzuki duo of Guy Martin and his brother William, riding the NW200 and Southern Solo Championship winning GSX-R1000 Superbikes.
William, who celebrated his 29th birthday earlier this week, will no doubt be looking for yet another strong event on the run-in to the all-important Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix next month.
The RiverRidge Recycling Race of the Legends will also see Ryan Farquhar’s young pretenders Danny Webb and Connor Behan star alongside veteran racer Keith Amor in KMR/SGS Kawasaki livery.
Current Irish Superbike Championship leader Dan Kneen will be looking to upset the big guns with John Burrows’ Cookstown B.E Racing team, and the Republic charge will be led by Derek Sheils, Michael Sweeney and Derek McGhee.
The fairer sex is also well represented this weekend at the Armoy Race of Legends, with no fewer than six female competitors taking to the grid.
Carryduff’s Yvonne Montgomery is returning to Armoy this year, with Enniskillen’s Melissa Kennedy making her Armoy debut in the Bayview Hotel Moto3/GP125cc class.
Experienced female competitor Maria Costello, who has been racing for nigh on 20 years, will also be challenging for honours in the Roadside Garages Kia Super Twin 650cc encounter.
The Northamptonshire girl is a regular at the Vauxhall International North West 200 and finished a respectable 10th at last year’s Armoy event. Newcomers include international road racer Veronika Hankocy from the Czech Republic, County Clare girl Suzanne Douglas and Sarah Boyes from York.
Kennedy said: “It’s great to see female riders in the pack. This is a sport for everyone and we are really looking forward to seeing what this weekend brings.
“At this stage of the week we are working really hard to get the course set up.”
Bill concluded: “By Thursday evening and Friday morning we’ll be waiting on all the road racers and their teams to descend on us, then it’ll all be down to some good and safe racing.
“I wish all six female competitors a great two days’ racing and may they give the boys a run for their money!”
The week-long festival at Armoy continues tonight with Garth Brookes tribute singer Jason Hughes, on stage at St Olcan’s Hall from 9pm.
Roads close tomorrow from 12.30pm to 7.30pm for practice and the opening Supersport race, with the post race entertainment supplied by the Miss Armoy 2014 competition from 9.30pm.
Roads then close on Race Day Saturday from 10am with a full 11-race programme scheduled.