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Derek McGee is revved up for success at 10th annual Race of Legends

 

By Roy Harris

The Bayview Hotel Race of Legends celebrates its 10th Anniversary this weekend in an area steeped in road racing history going back over 40 years.

The race goes back to the days when the Armoy Armada of Joey Dunlop, Mervyn Robinson, Frank Kennedy and Jim Dunlop blazed a trail around the Irish road race circuits in their battles with their arch rivals, the Dromara Destroyers, consisting of Ray McCullough, Ian McGregor, Brian Reid and Trevor Steele.

The current man on form ahead of the Armoy Motorcycle Road Racing Club meeting in the quiet picturesque Co Antrim village tomorrow and Saturday is Derek McGee.

The Mullingar rider has won 14 races during three previous meetings, including two five-timers - at Enniskillen and Faugheen - and four victories at his home Race of the South meeting at Walderstown.

McGee's recent results have elevated him into first place in the 2018 Duke Road Race Rankings, moving him 190 points clear of current champion Dean Harrison.

A year ago at Armoy, McGee was Man of the Meeting after taking victory in the first Supersport race, going on to finish second in the second Supersport outing, second in the Open race and fourth in the Race of Legends.

He follows Ryan Farquhar, Michael Dunlop, the late William Dunlop and Guy Martin, all twice winners of the Man of the Meeting title.

However, McGee will have his work cut out when you look at how the previous nine Open races and eight Race of Legends have all been dominated by three riders.

Farquhar, now retired, won the opening two Open races in 2009 and 2010, Michael Dunlop then won the next three before Martin added his name to the list twice in 2014 and 2015, with Michael undefeated since then.

Michael's Race of Legends record is exceptional having won the last seven in succession, Farquhar the only other winner of this prestigious race in 2010, the race abandoned in 2009.

The big question this weekend is obviously whether Michael will return to racing after William's death earlier this month?

Meanwhile in Japan, the official Team Green Kawasaki Racing outfit of World Superbike Championship leader Jonathan Rea, his new team mate for 2019 Leon Haslam and Japanese Superbike rider Kazuma Watanabe go into the prestigious 41st running of the classic Coca Cola Suzuka eight-hour endurance race in the early hours of Sunday morning having taken the second-best time at the end of the official test session ahead of the meeting.

The race starts in daylight and is completed in darkness, and is the single most important race of the year for the Japanese manufacturers and riders, with a large contingent of WSB, BSB and MotoGP riders on the starting grid.

Ulsterman Rea said: "This is my first race with Team Green at Suzuka and I was basically relearning the circuit as it is four years since I last raced here.

"All three of the team are fast and I'm looking forward to the race and doing the very best we can."

Rea is, of course, a past winner of this particular event - in 2012 - when riding an FCC-TSR Honda, while Haslam is a two-time winner, in 2013 and 2014, also riding Honda machinery.

Rea is gunning for a fourth consecutive WSB title.

Belfast Telegraph

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