King of road Derek McGee can blast way to Armoy glory
Derek McGee is the man to follow at the 10th Anniversary Armoy Road Races with two races, the first Senior Support and first Supersport, pencilled in to follow today's qualifying, roads closing this afternoon at 12.30pm.
The newcomers take to the fast, undulating 3.008mile track first to familiarise themselves with the twists and turns followed by nine sessions for grid positions ahead of racing.
Entries have been received from the Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Czech Republic, Germany, Taiwan and USA to tackle the best of our Northern Ireland competitors.
Attending the race meeting is 23-time TT winner John McGuinness, not to race, but in a PR role and of course to sell his book 'Built for Speed' in the paddock area.
Clerk of the course Bill Kennedy MBE said: "We have a good entry this year with up and coming riders like John Burrows Cookstown BE runner Davey Todd, a podium finisher last year in the Superbike championship race and first Supersport event and newcomer Tom Weeden, the 2016 Senior Manx Grand Prix winner making his Armoy debut.
"Then we have Derek McGee, virtually unbeatable over the last few weeks of action, Paul Jordan coming off the back of podiums at the ill-fated Skerries meeting and Faugheen, and local lads Paul Robinson, Barry Davidson, Tommy Henry and Darryl Tweed capable of podiums this weekend."
The current lap record for the circuit goes back to 2013 when Michael Dunlop hustled his Honda around the track in 1m 41.382 secs, a speed of 106.812mph, on his way to victory in the Open race.
Michael also holds the most wins record at Armoy, amassing 17 in the last nine years in the 125, 250, Supersport and Superbike classes including the last seven Bayview Hotel Race of Legends contests in succession.
But will he be on the grid this weekend?
Michael keeps his cards close to his chest and only he will know if the time is right for a return to the track following the tragic death of brother William.
Barry Davidson is also a multi winner at Armoy, tasting success in the last six 350cc Classic races.
Despite the 10-year milestone of this prestigious race meeting that brings visitors galore from the mainland, Europe and further afield to the Causeway Coast and Glens area, Armoy Motorcycle Road Racing Club were unsuccessful in their bid for Tourism NI funding this year.
With a budget coming close to £120k to run this road race and with costs escalating year on year the club have a loyal band of volunteers, individual race sponsors, sponsors of bales, grandstands, banners etc with the sale of the impressive race programme and official car parks the main sources of income.
The Kawasaki Factory Suzuak eight-hour team of Ulster's triple WSB champ Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam and Kasuma Watanabe ended the final pre-race test top of the timesheets with a half second advantage over reigning champions Yamaha.
Haslam was fastest with a 2m 07.227sec lap while the Yamaha squad, that includes Alex Lowes, ended with a 2m 07.716sec lap.
Three motorcycle convoys will converge on the MCE Ulster Grand Prix paddock area on Tuesday, August 7.
The Dromara Destroyers will lead one ride-out from the Village Square in Dromara, Scooters and Vespas will leave Scooter Specialists NI on Great Victoria Street and the third group will leave Harley Davidson at Kilbegs Business Park in Antrim, converging for a lap of the Dundrod Circuit.