Belfast Telegraph

Michael Dunlop chasing six wins from six in Legends clash

By Paul Lindsay

Michael Dunlop will use this weekend's Armoy Road Races to prime himself for the upcoming MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix on August 13.

But the Ballymoney man will also be keen to make it six 'Race of Legends' victories without reply - as he looks to continue his total domination of the Superbike class this season on the roads.

Dunlop's only defeat so far this term in the Superbike class came at Walderstown, when former Irish champion Derek Sheils nosed in front of the 13-time Isle of Man TT winner to put the Cookstown B.E Racing Suzuki on the top step.

Remarkably, Dunlop has already taken seven international Superbike wins this season without reply.

The international wins have come aboard his Hawk Racing prepared Buildbase BMW, which he rides for British Superbike team owners Stuart and Steve Hicken, the father and son pairing who seem to have found tangible harmony with the bullish Ballymoney ace.

Known by his fans as the Maverick, 27-year-old Dunlop fits the title well, but love him or loathe him, he's the undisputed modern day king of the Superbike class between the hedges, and this weekend really should be no different.

Dubliner Sheils is a superb national road racer but for whatever reason has never quite been able to showcase himself on the international scene. Despite this, he should offer the MD Racing BMW-mounted maverick his sternest opposition at Armoy.

William Dunlop is a man of few words, but will be quietly confident of showing his full potential on the MMB Yamaha at his home circuit, prior to the UGP.

Mar-Train Racing's Dan Kneen is another young rider who is yet to fulfil his international potential, but as a former Irish Superbike Road Race champion, the Manxman is well capable of upsetting the odds at Armoy.

Tyco BMW will undoubtedly be missed as a team at this weekend's Armoy Road Races, but more so Guy Martin.

The Lincolnshire ace has always pushed Michael Dunlop hard at the north Antrim event, taking Superbike wins in 2014 and 2015 and a glut of other podium finishes as well as the odd Supersport victory.

Dean Harrison, a double Supersport winner at the recent Southern 100 with Silicone Racing Kawasaki, is also a non-starter, as is former Grand Prix ace Jeremy McWilliams, with only Canadian Darren James representing the KMR/SGS International Kawasaki team.

The Moto3/125GP class will see Gary Dunlop ride the William Dunlop Racing 'one-two-five' with the Joey's Bar 125s - prepared by Gary - ridden by Derek McGee and Sam Dunlop.

William will, of course, be favourite to land a double in the Supersport class, with the aforementioned McGee one to watch in the Superbike class, having won last time out at Faugheen on his BMW.

Practice starts tomorrow and is followed by the first Supersport race, won by William Dunlop for the past two years, with a 10-race programme scheduled for Saturday.

Roads close tomorrow from 12.30pm through to 9.30pm, and on Race Day Saturday from 10.00am to 7.30pm at the latest.

Belfast Telegraph

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