William Dunlop sealed his first big bike victory since the Tandragee 100 at the beginning of May as the Ulster rider won the feature ‘Race of the South’ at Walderstown in Co Westmeath on Sunday.
Dunlop made it a double as he broke his old 2014 lap record to complete his sixth Irish national roads Supersport success on the Chris Dowd/Ivan Curran Racing Caffrey Yamaha.
The 29-year-old opted to skip last week’s Diamond Jubilee Southern 100 on the Isle of Man after struggling on the Tyco BMW Superstock machine at Skerries in the wake of his practice crash at the TT last month, which left Dunlop with a broken rib.
He finished third in the first Open Superbike race behind Derek Sheils at Walderstown, who was a double winner at Skerries on the BikeBits NI Kawasaki, and Derek McGee, who was a popular runner-up at his home circuit on his own Kawasaki ZX-10R.
Dunlop, who had the consolation of setting a new lap record in the Open race as he earned the final place on the rostrum, had to dig deep to hold off McGee in the showpiece race and the pair we separated by only three tenths of a second at the finish.
“It was good to get a win on the big bike for Philip [Neill] because he gave me the bike for the wee nationals and I’ve had some poor performances,” Dunlop told the News Letter.
“I got a bad start in the first Open race but I got myself into third behind Derek Sheils and Derek McGee, but I couldn’t make a pass because the gearing wasn’t right.
“We had no practice on Saturday because it was untimed due to the rain and because this is the bike’s first time here, it was hit and miss.
“For the big race we made a few changes with the gearing and it made all the difference, so it was a worthwhile trip for me,” he added.
“I broke the lap record in the first Superbike race but conditions weren’t perfect for the big race because there had been some rain and although it dried up enough for slicks, the course was still a bit slippy in places.”
Dunlop won the Supersport race from fellow Ballymoney man Seamus Elliott, fresh from his victory in the class at the Southern 100, with McGee taking third.
In the ‘Race of the South’ Grand Final, Sheils rounded out the rostrum places Behind Dunlop and McGee, with Waterford’s Brian McCormack, John Walsh and Alan Kenny the top six.
McGee edged a thrilling Supertwins race to win by nine hundredths of a second from Cheshire rider Connor Behan, with Andy Farrell third.
Kevin Fitzpatrick and Brian Coomey were the Senior and Junior Support race winners respectively.
Armoy hosts the next Irish roads meeting with the ‘Race of Legends’ taking place on Saturday, July 25.