Davey Todd lifted spirits at the Armoy Road Races yesterday with a blistering performance in practice after home favourite Michael Dunlop stunned the paddock by pulling out of his home race.
The Ballymoney man is the star of the show at the Co Antrim meeting, where he has won the headline ‘Race of Legends’ nine times in succession.
However, a new name is set to be added to the trophy today after Dunlop’s shock withdrawal.
In a statement, the 33-year-old said he had not been treated on a “fair and equal” basis with other teams competing at Armoy, without providing any further details.
He added: “As a result, we have decided to withdraw from the meeting. This decision has been taken reluctantly after so many years of enjoyable and successful racing at Armoy, my home race.
“We can’t explain our level of disappointment with the situation with the club after 10-plus years of commitment to the event.”
The Armoy Motorcycle Club said it was “saddened” by Dunlop’s decision and stressed all riders were treated “fairly and equally”.
A statement said: “The Club is very disappointed that Michael Dunlop and MD Racing will not be attending the Armoy Road Races, particularly when this is his home race.
“The Club treats all riders fairly and equally, always has done, and is saddened that anyone would think otherwise.”
Saltburn man Todd arrived at Armoy fresh from a fantastic five-timer at the Southern 100 on the Isle of Man.
And the Milenco by Padgett’s Honda rider made the most of the sunshine around the three-mile course to clinch pole position in the Superbike and Supersport classes.
Todd set an unofficial outright lap record on only his third lap in Superbike qualifying at 107.093mph, becoming the first rider to break the 107mph barrier at the three-mile course.
The 26-year-old was 1.6s faster than Derek Sheils (Roadhouse Macau BMW), with Michael Sweeney third on his MJR BMW ahead of England’s Phil Crowe (BMW).
“The bike is feeling great and I’m just enjoying myself around here,” said Todd.
“Hopefully I can have a few good battles out there with the guys and it’d be nice to get onto the box, or even the top step.”
The Superbike session was stopped after Paul Jordan’s Prez Yamaha blew an engine, which resulted in a long delay to clean oil from the road surface.
A rerun of the session was held later in the evening, with Magherafelt man Jordan qualifying sixth behind Cork’s Mike Browne.
In the Supersport class, Todd sealed pole by 1.179s from Jordan with Browne completing the top three.
The returning Adam McLean was fifth fastest on his Yamaha behind Sheils (McAdoo Kawasaki).
Sheils topped the Supertwin times from Sweeney, while Armoy newcomer and TT privateer champion Jamie Coward was third.
Rain last night forced the cancellation of the opening Supersport race, while the Lightweight Supersport race was postponed until today.
Roads will close this morning at 9am ahead of racing and will reopen no later than 7.30pm.