Michael Dunlop will defend ‘Race of Legends’ title at Armoy

Michael Dunlop will defend his 'Race of Legends' title at the Armoy Road Races this weekend.

Michael Dunlop will defend his 'Race of Legends' title at the Armoy Road Races this weekend.

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Michael Dunlop has confirmed his participation at this weekend’s SGS International Armoy Road Races, where the Ballymoney man will be gunning for an unprecedented sixth successive win in the feature ‘Race of Legends’.

The 27-year-old has been unbeatable in the showpiece race at his home meeting since 2011 and will line up as the red-hot favourite on his MD Racing BMW on Saturday.

Dunlop, fresh from a dominant four-timer in the Superbike class at the Southern 100 on the Isle of Man, including victory in the prestigious Solo Championship event, will compete in the Torquetronix Open Race and the headline ‘Race of Legends’ plus both Supersport races, with the First4Priting-backed opening 600cc race taking place during the course of practice at Armoy on Friday evening.

The Bayview Hotel Supersport race will be held during the main bill on Saturday, with William Dunlop edging favouritism on his IC Racing Yamaha R6 following his double and lap record in the class last summer.

Thirteen-time Isle of Man TT winner Dunlop, who established a new outright lap record for the Mountain Course of 133.962mph on his way to victory in the Senior race, is a massive draw on his home patch at Armoy and Clerk of the Course Bill Kennedy said he was delighted the 27-year-old has committed to the event, where he has been a regular starter since the inaugural meeting in 2009.

“Michael wasn’t sure whether he could make Armoy due to other commitments but we are absolutely delighted that he is joining us,” said Kennedy.

“He’s had some great wins this year, more recently four out of four at the Southern 100 and with wins at Walderstown and the Skerries and of course that great win at the Senior TT, I’ve no doubt Michael will be on fine form at Armoy.”

Lincolnshire’s Guy Martin has provided Dunlop with his stiffest opposition in the Superbike class over the years, but the TV presenter and truck mechanic hasn’t raced since a big crash at the Ulster Grand Prix last August and won’t be on the grid this weekend.

In his absence, Dunlop’s main rivals will be his older brother William on the MMB Yamaha R1 plus Derek Sheils on the Cookstown B.E. Racing Suzuki, Manx rider Dan Kneen (Mar-Train Yamaha) and Derek McGee, who notched a double at the weekend at the Faugheen 50 meeting in Co Tipperary, including a win in the Grand Final on Noel Williamson’s BMW.

Martin may be a non-starter, but with man-of-the-moment Dunlop confirmed, Kennedy says fans are in for a treat this weekend.

“This is shaping up to be a really good event we’ve riders from all over the UK and the South and I am confident that we are going to see some exceptional road racing again this year,” he said.

“Of course it has been confirmed that Guy Martin can’t attend this year. He and the Tyco team have been great supporters of the Armoy Road Races and whatever Guy is doing presently we will always send him our good wishes, but let me reassure you that there still will be plenty of fine racing.”

Roads close on Friday for practice from 12.30pm, reopening no later than 9.30pm.

On Saturday, roads will be closed from 10am-7.30pm.