New sponsor for Armoy races as organisers await spectators decision

The organisers of the Armoy Road Races have confirmed a new sponsor for the event in July as they await news on whether or not the current limit of 500 spectators will be lifted.

The Northern Ireland Executive had initially targeted June 21 as an indicative date for a further easing of Covid-19 restrictions, but delayed a decision amid concerns of a rising number of cases of the Delta variant.

A new indicative date of July 5 has been given for the additional relaxation of rules, which currently only permit a maximum of 500 people at outdoor events. The Executive is set to review this on July 1.

Clerk of the Course Bill Kennedy previously told the News Letter ‘only a hike in coronavirus cases would stop the race going ahead’ in the summer.

Admission to the event will be strictly by programme and entry wristband, which were available for purchase through the event’s official website.

However, the sale of spectator passes has now been suspended, with the Armoy Club announcing that it was ‘unable to confirm if any more will be available before race day’. It is unclear how many spectator passes have been allocated to date.

A statement from the Club on social media said: ‘We are continuing to assess the situation in regards to restrictions, the spread of the Delta variant and social distancing requirements.

‘The next NI Executive meeting is scheduled or Thursday, 1st July. We will have no update before that date with regards to the number of spectators permitted’.

Armoy Clerk of the Course, Bill Kennedy MBE and road racer Neil Kernohan pictured with Martin and Nicole Laverty, Euro Autospares Limited - sponsors of the Open Superbike race - and their children, Clodagh and Caidan.

In the meantime, plans are progressing behind the scenes to host the first Irish national road race of the year from July 30-31 at the three-mile Co Antrim course, with Ballymoney-based company Euro Autospares Limited confirmed as the sponsor of the Open Superbike race.

Kennedy said: “We are so pleased to welcome Euro Autospares Ltd on board for the first time this year.

“The Armoy Road Races mean an awful lot to not only road racing fans the length and breadth of Ireland but to the local community as well. We are truly indebted to our sponsors who have helped enable this much-loved event to go ahead.

“The Open Superbike race has a reputation for being incredibly exciting with Michael Dunlop winning it in 2019 and achieving the fastest lap at a whopping 105.54 miles-per-hour. We’re sure that this year, the Open Superbike race will not disappoint and will provide all the thrills that it usually does.”

In May, the Bayview Hotel was revealed as the title sponsor for the meeting, continuing a long association with the race.

Meanwhile, Ballymena rider Neil Kernohan who is a regular on the Irish road racing scene, said Armoy is a ‘must-attend’ event on the calendar as he plans his return next month on the Logan Racing machines.

“The Armoy Road Races is a must-attend event in the road racing calendar in normal times, however this year it will be one of those races which represents all that is good about this sport – a well-run event, a great course with a few jumps, good craic and plenty of spirit,” he said.

“I’m riding this year in a few of the races and the Open will be extremely competitive with some key riders. To be honest, for me, the podiums might come quicker in the Lightweight or Supertwin classes, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Home favourite Michael Dunlop has won the headline ‘Race of Legends’ a record eight times in a row, claiming his most recent success at Armoy in 2019 despite struggling with injuries sustained in a crash at the Southern 100.

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