William Dunlop took his seventh Armoy win in the Supersport race on the Co Antrim course on Friday night.
After a long, hot day of practice the local man pipped his Tyco Suzuki teammate Guy Martin to the post in a thrilling six lap scrap.
“I’m over the moon with that,” Dunlop smiled.
“It was a hard, fast race and I had to stay extra late on the brakes to keep in front of Guy.”
The Ballymoney man, who is still limping badly following his Senior TT crash, had started in pole position but found himself relegated to third going into the first chicane behind Martin and Keith Amor on the Rip Deluge Honda.
“I got in front of Keith and then I passed Guy going into the village and tried to get away but Guy followed me,” Dunlop explained.
There were only yards between the pair throughout the race as they swapped fastest lap times before the Ulster rider snatched the chequered flag by just 0.15 scecs with the quickest lap of the race on the final circuit.
Englishman Martin, who rates Armoy as his second favourite road race of the year behind the Southern 100, had no complaints with runner up spot.
“William is riding well and even though there were a couple of places where I could have tried a move on him I thought ‘this is the first race of the weekend’,” he explained.
“I don’t think Philip (Neill, Tyco Suzuki boss) would have been too happy if I had had both of us off!”
Scot Amor was delighted with third place in his comeback ride at Armoy.
“That was hard work,” he laughed after the podium celebrations.
“I haven’t raced since the TT and it shows. I’ve been sweating like a maniac all day but it is really nice to get back o the box again.”
William’s win gives him a boost going into today’s main race day but he may have his hands full keeping his younger brother Michael at bay in the two superbike races.
Having his first race in Ireland since his TT four-timer in June, Michael posted the fastest time in the Open practice session after time ran out to run the Race of Legends qualifying.
The 25-year old doesn’t have his Superbike and Senior TT winning full blown superbike spec S1000RR BMW at Armoy, preferring the Superstock version instead.
“I haven’t ridden the bike since the TT and the superbike boys will have the extra grunt and top end but we will see tomorrow if the BMW is good enough.”
With both Dunlops, Guy Martin and Manxman Dan Kneen (Burrows Suzuki) all lapping at over 103 mph, it should be a close fought contest in the feature races of the day but William may just have the extra incentive he needs to win again.
“I was told today that I had won 98 Irish road races before and this win tonight makes it 99-so I will be going for the 100 tomorrow,” he smiled.
Jamie Hamilton passed a medical and was declared fit to race at Armoy following his huge Skerries Grand Final crash.
He was third fastest in Supertwin qualifying.