Michael Dunlop equals fellow road racing greats Phillip McCallen and Ray McCullough
Michael Dunlop ruthlessly brushed aside the opposition to seal a record ninth straight ‘Race of Legends’ victory on Saturday at the Armoy Road Races to record his 16th Superbike win at his home circuit.
Dunlop triumphed in the feature race for the first time in 2011 and claimed his maiden success at the inaugural Armoy meeting in the 125cc class in 2009.
Following a fantastic five-timer at the weekend, the Ballymoney man has now won a record 24 times around the undulating three-mile course in Co Antrim.
The 32-year-old has joined fellow greats Ray McCullough and Phillip McCallen on 109 Irish road racing victories, putting him joint fifth on the all-time winners’ roll of honour behind Ryan Farquhar (211), his uncle Joey (156), father Robert (135) and brother William (119).
He was an emphatic winner of the Bayview Hotel ‘Race of Legends’ finale, which was delayed by over an hour when Irish rider Joe Loughlin came off his Suzuki at Church Bends and was airlifted to hospital by the NI Air Ambulance with chest injuries. The Castleblayney man fortunately escaped serious injury.
Starting from fifth place on row two, Dunlop (SYNETIQ BMW) was 1.5s down on race leader Derek McGee (NJ Doyne Kawasaki) by the time he worked his way through to second place at the end of the opening lap.
However, he quickly dispatched Mullingar man McGee, who had a huge moment over the Lagge Jump, and went on to disappear at the front, winning by over nine seconds from Davey Todd (Wilson Craig Honda) with McGee regrouping for third on the NJ Doyne Kawasaki.
“People just think you rock up here and win but there are lots of boys riding hard,” said Dunlop, who was back racing between the hedges for the first time since an injury-hit 2019.
“I’ve had time to heal from my injuries and in 2019 I suffered a lot from injury.
“The body has got time to heal again and it leaves myself in a stronger and better position where I can be fit and battle again.”
Dunlop earlier shattered his 2013 lap record at Armoy to give the new BMW M1000RR its maiden road racing success in the Open Superbike race.
He raised the benchmark to 106.945mph on lap six of seven, taking victory by 7.6s from Derek Sheils (Roadhouse Macau BMW) with McGee in third.
Dunlop also sealed a Supersport brace as he won the second race on Saturday on his Yamaha after a pulsating battle with McGee by a few thousandths of a second on the line.
Adam McLean, second in Friday’s Supersport race behind Dunlop, was 5.3s back in third on the McAdoo Kawasaki.
Dunlop’s five wins also included victories in Friday’s first Supersport race, when he narrowly edged out McAdoo Racing’s Adam McLean, and a win in the Lightweight Supersport/250GP race on Mark Kelly’s RS250 Honda following a battle with McGee (Faraldo Racing 450).
He was also set to compete in the Senior Classic race on a 500 MV Agusta but was unable to compete after the machine developed problems in practice on Friday.