Leading Isle of Man TT racer Jamie Coward and North West 200 winner Pierre Yves Bian will make their debuts at next month’s Bayview Hotel Armoy Road Races.
The official launch of the ‘Race of Legends’ was held yesterday in Portballintrae on the north coast, where Tobermore’s Adam McLean, Ballymoney rider Darryl Tweed and Cullybackey’s Neil Kernohan joined two-time TT Privateer Champion Coward as the special guests.
McLean, who parted company from the McAdoo Racing team earlier this month, will run his own Yamaha R6 at Armoy and is also due to ride a Kawasaki Supertwin.
One of Northern Ireland’s top Irish national road races, the Armoy meeting will run from July 29-30 around the undulating three-mile course in north Antrim.
Local hero Michael Dunlop will be the man to beat as he targets a 10th successive victory in the blue riband Superbike race.
Dunlop was not present yesterday, but the 21-time TT winner is fully expected to take his place on the grid in a month’s time.
English visitor Coward, who impressed at the TT with a run of five top-eight finishes on the KTS by Steadplan Racing Yamaha machines, will be competing in his first Irish national road race since he was injured in a huge crash at the Tandragee 100 in 2013.
“I’ve been wanting to do Armoy for a while,” said Coward, who will ride a 600 Yamaha owned by Ballymoney man Stanley Stewart at Armoy
He will also be on board a Kawasaki ZXR750 in the new Classic Superbike race.
“I haven’t done one the smaller Irish road races since Tandragee in 2013, when I had a monumental crash at the same place where Adam McLean had his crash a few years back,” he remembered.
“But Stanley is friends will Bill [Kennedy, Armoy Clerk of Course] and asked if I would come over and do it, so I said we’d come and have a go.
“It’s a different challenge and it should be fun.”
Frenchman Yves Bian will join Tweed in Northern Ireland’s Wilson Craig Racing Team on a CBR600RR Honda.
Bian was a Supertwin winner at the North West 200 in May after Richard Cooper was excluded from the results, and also impressed at the TT, finishing fourth on his debut in the Supertwin race.
The ever-popular Guy Martin is also among the entries in the Classic Superbike race along with Phil Crowe, who shone on his Armoy debut last summer.