Michael and William Dunlop spearhead a stellar entry for next month’s RiverRidge Recycling Armoy Road Races, which were officially launched in Portballintrae on Wednesday.
BMW star Dunlop, who lit up the Isle of Man TT with his second four-timer in two years to join Steve Hislop and Phillip McCallen on 11 Mountain victories, has ruled the roost on his home patch in recent years, taking a double in the Open and feature Superbike races in 2013 and setting a new lap record for the three-mile circuit at 106.81mph.
The 25-year-old is due to compete in the Donegal Rally in a Mk2 Ford Escort, which gets underway in Letterkenny on Friday.
Dunlop’ focus, though, will be solely on two wheels when he sets out to defend his titles at the hugely popular national road race, which takes place from July 25-26.
His older brother William, who came out on top in the Supersport race at the ‘Race of Legends’ last summer, is recovering from a broken leg sustained in a crash at the TT, but should be back in action at the Skerries 100 near Dublin at the beginning of July.
“It depends on how soon the bike is ready because it was badly damaged after that crash at the TT,” said the Tyco Suzuki rider.
“My leg feels fine now and I can walk on it without any bother.
“Hopefully we can sort something out for Skerries before the Southern 100 because the more time I get on the bikes for the Ulster Grand Prix, the better.”
Tyco Suzuki’s Guy Martin will also make his annual visit to the event to compete in the Superbike and Supersport classes.
Former 125cc and Moto3 Grand Prix rider Danny Webb has made a commitment to compete at the ‘Race of Legends’, where he will line up on Ryan Farquhar’s SGS International KMR Kawasaki machines.
William was joined at the launch by cousins Paul Robinson and Sam Dunlop, plus Wilson Craig Honda’s Jamie Hamilton and young Cheshire rider Connor Behan.
Armoy Clerk of the Course Bill Kennedy said: “I have been involved in the Armoy Road Racing Club since its inception.
“Not one year goes by without racers commenting on how much they love racing the roads around Armoy and feeling the immense sense of history around them.
“Having both Michael and William Dunlop racing here is really a kind of homecoming, and I know so many local fans and enthusiasts from further afield will be very excited at the prospect of watching the Dunlops race around their local roads, particularly after that terrific first Superbike race at the North West 200.
“This year will see a few changes but one of the main ones is that, as a result of several requests over the last year or two, we are offering a VIP package to those who want a special road racing experience on race day.”
The VIP package includes car parking in any of the official club car parks, exclusive access to the VIP corporate hospitality marquee and VIP grandstand, morning coffee and scones, a gourmet buffet lunch and a copy of the official race programme.
Individual tickets are priced at £70 with a table of 10 costing £650. Tickets can be purchased by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 028 9091 8676.
Race commentary this year will be provided by Chris Kinley and the club has passed on its best wishes to George McCann, who is recovering from illness.
There is also the potential for an exciting TV deal this year, with talks currently ongoing.