Top Isle of Man TT privateer Jamie Coward set for debut at Armoy Road Races in July

Top Isle of Man TT privateer Jamie Coward will make his debut at next month’s Bayview Hotel Armoy Road Races as he returns to an Irish national road race for the first time in almost a decade.

Coward will ride Ballymoney man Stanley Stewart’s Yamaha YZF-R6 Supersport machine under the KTS Racing powered by Steadplan banner at the three-mile County Antrim course.

The 31-year-old will also compete in the newly-added Classic Superbike race on a Kawasaki ZXR750.

Yorkshireman Coward’s last Irish national road racing appearance was at the Tandragee 100 in 2013, when he was unfortunately hurt in a huge crash.

Yorkshire's Jamie Coward at Union Mills at the Isle of Man TT.

One of the most consistent riders at the TT, he was among a handful of riders to lap in excess of 130mph around the Mountain Course this year and holds the honour of setting the fastest ever lap by a Yamaha rider, posting a speed of 130.398mph in the opening Superbike race.

He was crowned as the leading TT privateer for the second time after securing five top-eight results across the Superbike, Superstock, Supersport and Senior races.

Coward finished sixth three times in the Superbike, first Supersport and Superstock events and earned a best result of fifth in the second Supersport TT. He was also in contention for the podium in the Supertwin race until he was forced out and ended the week with eighth place in the blue riband Senior.

The former Classic TT winner, who will be in attendance at the official launch of the 2022 Armoy Road Races on Wednesday in Portballintrae, said: “I raced at Tandragee in 2012 and then I went back in 2013 and had a massive crash at the same place where Adam McLean crashed [in 2019].

“I had a monumental crash and it was so long ago that it was actually Dr John [Hinds] who treated me. No one could find me in the bushes or the field or whatever, but he found me and I remember coming around, and he asked me, ‘what’s hurting?’

“I told him my legs and arms were hurting and he said, ‘that’s because they’re facing in the wrong direction!’ He put me to sleep after that – he was some boy Dr John!

“I’ve actually never been back since so this is my first foray back to the little nationals and Armoy since that crash in 2013,” added Coward.

“I’m looking forward to it because I always said that I’d like to race at Armoy one day.

“It’s nice to go and try something different because sometimes this bike racing malarkey can get a bit monotonous after a long time, so a bit of a change of scenery will be good fun.”

Coward intends to ride the Yamaha R6 ‘as much as possible’ at Armoy in the Open, Supersport and ‘Race of Legends’ races after deciding against bringing the YZF-R1 in his maiden year at the event.

“I’m a newcomer, so I didn’t want to take the big bike,” he said.

“I’ll be there on Stanley’s 600 and I’ll be riding that as much as possible. Stanley is obviously friendly with Bill Kennedy [Armoy Clerk of Course], so he asked me to come over and have a go.

“We’re coming to have a blast and see how we go.

“I’m also riding in the Classic Superbike race on the Kawasaki ZXR750 that I’m racing this year at the Manx Grand Prix, which will give me a bit of a run out on the bike before the ‘Manx’.”

Since the inaugural Armoy Road Races in 2009, the event has grown to become one of the country’s leading national meetings and Coward has nothing but praise for race chief Kennedy and the hard-working Armoy club.

“It’s been getting bigger and bigger and that’s all down to Bill because he promotes it well and gets the right riders to the event,” he said.

“He’s doing a good job along with the club and it’s going to be good fun coming over for the first time.”

Home hero Michael Dunlop has dominated at Armoy over the years and clinched a record ninth victory in the headline ‘Race of Legends’ last summer as the meeting returned for the first time since 2019.

Dunlop also shattered his outright lap record on the SYNETIQ BMW M1000RR at 106.945mph as he stole the show with a five-timer.

The 32-year-old sets the bar high and Dunlop will take all the beating again next month (July 29-30), when he is a red-hot favourite to add to his record tally of 24 victories at Armoy – 16 of which he achieved in the Superbike class.

Now a 21-time winner at the Isle of Man TT after a double in the Supersport races on the MD Racing Yamaha, the Ballymoney man may one day take over from his legendary uncle Joey (26 wins) as the most successful TT rider in history.