William Dunlop and Derek Sheils are among the early confirmations for this year’s SGS International Armoy Road Races, which were officially launched on Wednesday at the famous Bushmills Distillery.
Dunlop will ride his IC Racing Yamaha in the Supersport class plus the MMB Yamaha R1 in the Superbike races as he bids to put on a show at his home event.
The 30-year-old, recovering from injury after a crash in practice at the Isle of Man TT, was a double winner in the Supersport class year and has been a regular at Armoy since the inaugural race eight years ago.
“The Armoy Road Races are my local races and it is just one of those events that is always marked in the calendar each and every year,” Dunlop said.
“I rode at the very first year Armoy Races in 2009 on a 125cc Honda and on a 600 in the Open and Supersport races and I’ve come back every year since then. It’s always very special to go to Armoy.”
His younger brother, Michael, is yet to be confirmed for the ‘Race of Legends’ next month, which takes place from Friday, July 29 and Saturday, July 30 around the testing three-mile course.
However, the 13-time Isle of Man TT winner has claimed the honours in the feature race at Armoy five years in succession and it is hoped the 27-year-old will take his place on the grid to challenge for a record sixth victory in the big race of the day.
Dublin man Sheils is among the chief opposition and will ride a Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike in John Burrows’ Cookstown B.E. Racing team.
Sheils is also set to compete in the Supersport races - with the opening 600cc race taking place after practice on Friday, July 29 - plus the Supertwins class on Burrows’ Kawasaki.
Bill Kennedy, Clerk of the Course at Armoy, paid tribute to the volunteers in the organising club for their ‘hard work and dedication’ in establishing the race as one of the top National meetings on the Irish road racing calendar.
“We are well underway with preparations for this year’s races and the club and I are getting increasingly excited,” Kennedy said.
“I’m always amazed about the popularity of the Armoy Road Races and it is testament to my fellow club members in the Armoy Motorcycling Road Racing Club, who strive tirelessly to ensure they put on the very best National road race they can for riders and spectators alike.
“We’ve some exciting competitors this year but the finer details have yet to confirmed – it’s still early with the TT only finishing 10 days or so ago and riders are only starting to turn their attention to Armoy.
“It’s fantastic to see the likes of Dunlop and Sheils throw their hat in the ring already,” he added.
“John Burrows has been a long-standing supporter of these races as has William Dunlop and I wish them both the very best for these races.”
Adam McLean and Neil Kernohan were also among the riders present at the launch along with Causeway Coast and Glens Mayor, Alderman Maura Hickey, and Terence Brannigan, Chairman of Tourism Northern Ireland.
Kennedy added: “I’d like to thank Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and Tourism NI for their generous support. I’d also like to thank our title sponsor SGS International. Without the support and sponsorship from these organisations and other sponsors present here today, the event wouldn’t be possible.”
Entries for the race close on July 4.