Flying visit to Armoy for Davey Todd and Joey Thompson

English riders Davey Todd and Joey Thompson made a flying visit to Northern Ireland to re-familiarise themselves with the Armoy course ahead of the Irish national road race next month.

Both made their debuts at Armoy in 2017 and are eager to return to the ‘Race of Legends’, which is scheduled to be the first Irish road race of the season (July 30-31).

The organisers, competitors and fans alike will be hoping the current limit of 500 spectators at outdoor sporting events is lifted after the NI Executive delayed an easing of rules until July 5.

The changes had an indicative date of June 21 but were pushed back due to concerns over an increase in case numbers of the Covid-19 Delta variant.

English road racers Davey Todd and Joey Thompson pictured alongside local riders Darryl Tweed and Neil Kernohan, Bill Kennedy, MBE, Clerk of Course and Trevor Kane, title sponsor, Armoy Road Races and owner of the Bayview Hotel, Portballintrae.

Armoy is one of only two national road races due to go ahead in Northern Ireland this year, with the postponed Cookstown 100 pencilled in for September 11-12.

Rising star Todd, already a winner at the North West 200 and podium finisher at the Ulster Grand Prix, said: “I raced in the Armoy Road Races in 2017 which was at the very start of my road racing career. I got a second in the Supersport race and a third on the podium in the Superbike races, both on a 600, and I believe that’s what really helped me in the beginning.

“I’m really excited to be back in Armoy and see the course again. As well as this being one of my very first road races this is one of my favourite races and it’s great to be back,” added Todd, who will ride for the Wilson Craig Racing team.

“It’s a meeting that is very well organised and with a fun and really good circuit it makes for a good two days’ racing. It’s great to be back.”

Fellow Yorkshireman Thompson is eager to re-establish himself after taking almost year out of racing altogether in 2019.

The 23-year-old will ride in the British Superbike Championship this year on a BMW for NP Motorcycles.

Thompson, a winner of the Dundrod 150 National race in 2017 and a double podium finisher in the Supertwin class at the 2018 North West 200, said: “Armoy was my first national road race in my first year of road racing in 2017 – I was only 18 years old.

“I really enjoyed it although the weather was horrendous and at that stage I wasn’t too confident in the wet.

“The circuit is great though and the organisers are very good but what I loved was the support of the fans and the atmosphere is unreal, particularly as you come through the village. Since then I’ve raced in various different championships as well as taking a year out of racing altogether – and I’m looking forward to restarting my Irish road racing career at Armoy.

“I’ve matured a lot so I’ll hopefully string together some good results.”

Armoy Clerk of the Course Bill Kennedy said the English duo were a ‘great addition’ to the entry list.

“Both these riders are a great addition to the line-up for Armoy,” he said.

“They are both no strangers to the course as they last raced at Armoy much earlier in their road racing careers. We are very glad to have them back and it’s as clear as day that they are really looking forward to the road racing in just over six weeks.”

Both Todd and Thompson spent some time at the three-mile Armoy course before joining Northern Ireland riders Darryl Tweed and Neil Kernohan for a photoshoot at the Bayview Hotel in Portballintrae, which is the title sponsor of the Co Antrim road race.

Kennedy also welcomed the recent news that financial support would be available for the event from the Tourism Event Recovery Fund.

“The Club is delighted by the news that the funding from the Council in relation to the event recovery fund is being awarded,” he said.

“The cost and availability of many things this year is astronomical, from portacabins, toilets and other infrastructure – I can’t quite believe it. There are many reasons for the lack of availability and costs given the ongoing pandemic and other supply chain issues, but the financial assistance is very much appreciated and much-needed in these strange times.

“It will go some way to ensuring that we have the right facilities for those racing as well as for the smooth and safe running of the event,” added Kennedy.

“There are no two ways about it, we can’t run races without financial assistance whether that is from our fantastic sponsors or local government – I’ll accept it regardless of where it comes from.”

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