Michael’s fired up for Armoy nine-in-a-row bid
Michael Dunlop will have a target on his back as the Ballymoney man bids for a record ninth straight victory in the ‘Race of Legends’ at the Armoy Road Races tomorrow.
The 19-time Isle of Man TT winner will make his eagerly-anticipated road racing return at his home event in Co Antrim, where he is entered on the SYNETIQ BMW in the Superbike class.
Dunlop rode the new M1000RR machine at the opening round of the Ulster Superbike Championship in Kirkistown earlier this month and will be hoping the latest version of the German manufacturer’s ultra-successful Superbike will fire him to more glory around the undulating three-mile course, where practice and the first races take place today.
Dunlop last competed in a road race at the Classic TT in August 2019 and opted to skip last September’s Cookstown 100 in County Tyrone.
However, he will finally get back to doing what he does best at Armoy, which is the first of only two Irish national road races set to go ahead this year, along with the postponed Cookstown 100 on September 10-11.
Dunlop has kept himself busy this year, participating in numerous test days and competing in the opening round of the British Superstock 1000 Championship at Oulton Park, plus the first two Ulster Superbike rounds.
He has lost his father, Robert, brother William and uncle Joey to the sport, but Dunlop says Irish road racing is in his DNA.
“It’s something we were reared with, it’s our family heritage — my uncle (Joey) did it, my dad did it, my other uncle, Jim, did it as well: when you came from where I did, that was all you had... motorbikes,” he said.
“I always wanted to ride the roads and it was always my thing to do that. I’d like to have seen what it was possible to do if I went down the short circuit route and spent a bit of time to see if I was going to be any good at it or not.
“But all in all, the roads was our thing and it’s what we do.”
Dunlop will also compete in the Supersport class on his MD Racing Yamaha and is set to clash with old foe Guy Martin in the Senior Classic race.
His main rivals include the in-form Derek Sheils on his Roadhouse Macau BMW.
Challengers from the Republic of Ireland also include the returning Derek McGee from Co Westmeath, plus Skerries man Michael Sweeney.
Tobermore’s Adam McLean is among the leading Ulster riders on the McAdoo Racing Kawasaki machines along with Magherafelt’s Paul Jordan, while Davey Todd from North Yorkshire is a major contender on the Wilson Craig Honda machines.
The event will be run under Covid-19 restrictions, with a limited number of spectators in attendance. Admission is strictly by wristband only, which were available to purchase online in the run up to the race.
Roads will close today at 12.30pm for practice, with a Supersport 600 race and Lightweight Supersport race scheduled to take place after qualifying.
Roads will close tomorrow at 10am for an 11-race programme, re-opening no later than 7.30pm.
Meanwhile, practice gets under way today for the fourth round of the British Superbike Championship at Thruxton, where Glenn and Andrew Irwin will be aiming to climb the standings this weekend.