Michael Dunlop thrilled to be back 15 days after pelvis break
Just 15 days after suffering a broken pelvis and other fractures at the Southern 100, Michael Dunlop defied the odds and returned at the Bayview Hotel Armoy Road Races yesterday.
In a typical dogged display, the 30-year-old finished fourth in the opening seven-lap Supersport race last night, a mere 0.869 seconds behind winner Derek McGee.
It is an astonishing result considering he signed himself out of Nobles Hospital on the Isle of Man on July 12 and required crutches to walk around at Armoy, steps to aid getting onto the MD Racing Honda and had to pass a medical prior to practice yesterday.
In a heart-stopping race, McGee, Derek Sheils, Michael Sweeney, Paul Jordan and Dunlop were never more than a second apart.
Sheils retired on lap three, leaving McGee and Jordan to battle it out at the front - the result a photo finish as the Mullingar and Magherafelt riders flashed past the chequered flag.
McGee got the verdict by two one thousandths of a second, while Jordan set the fastest lap at 101.939mph.
On Dunlop, Bill Kennedy, clerk of the course, said: "I'm absolutely delighted that Michael will be racing this weekend and vying for the much sought after title of Bayview Hotel Race of Legends.
"Michael has remained faithful to this club and never lets us down.
"The Armoy Club and I would wish him every success."
The Ballymoney man, a 19-time TT winner, was anxious to get a few miles under the belt ahead of chasing his eighth Race of Legends victory in a row, appearing in both the Supersport race and Superbike practice.
He admitted: "Dean Harrison, Peter Hickman and Lee Johnston are racing in BSB on a regular basis while I have only ridden at the North West 200 where we got limited race time, the TT which was again blighted by the weather and the Southern 100 after almost a year's absence (following the death of his brother William at the Skerries 100).
"I was carrying an injury from a pre-season test and aggravated that in a crash during the Donegal International Rally.
"In actual fact, that will require me to have surgery after the season is over.
"This latest setback is a real annoyance and part of racing, but we'll give it our best shot and see where it takes us. If I didn't feel like racing, I wouldn't, simple as."
In the Senior Support race last night, Armoy's Tommy Henry won and set the fastest lap on the H O'Kane Motors Yamaha R6 with Ballymoney man Ryan Fenton second, just over four seconds behind, and Bangor's Andy McAllister third.
Of course, the O'Kane Motors brand is synonymous with the Armoy Armada from the seventies.
John Burrows/RK Suzuki rider Sheils was fastest in the day's Superbike practice session.
He went around the track in one minute 43.554 seconds, a speed of 104.572mph on his final lap.
Sheils, who will be attempting to make it eight road race wins in a row today, was 1.218 seconds clear of arch-rival McGee on his NJ Doyne/McGee Kawasaki at 103.356mph, with Sweeney a further second back in third at 102.345mph and Dunlop registering 101.470mph in fourth.
McGee, meanwhile, is on pole position in both the Moto3 and Supertwin races today, the Mullingar Missile three quarters of a second ahead of Sweeney in the twins with Manx Grand Prix winner Andy Farrell in third and local rider Neil Kernohan fourth place.
Enniskillen competitor Melissa Kennedy and Nigel Moore complete the front row of the Moto3 race alongside McGee, while Hexham rider Dominic Herbertson lines up on pole position for both the Junior and Senior Classic events.
Kernohan and Tommy Henry were fastest in the respective Lightweight Supersport and Senior Support classes yesterday, while Co Meath rider Vinny Brennan leads the way in Junior Support.
Roads close this morning at 10am for what should be a thrilling day's action.