William Dunlop and the Chris Dowd/Ivan Curran Racing Yamaha proved an unbeatable combination yet again as the home favourite kick-started the SGS International Armoy Road Races with a comfortable Supersport success.
Dunlop has won all seven Irish national road races in 2015 to seize a commanding lead in the Irish Supersport Championship and the 30-year-old turned on the style once more to wrap up another win in the First4Printing 600cc event, which was held following practice in pleasant sunshine at the three-mile Armoy course.
The Ballymoney rider, who opted to skip the Southern 100 earlier this month following his crash during a practice lap at the Isle of Man TT, closed out victory by almost three-and-a-half seconds over Guy Martin, who is riding the TAS Suzuki GSX-R600 used to such good effect by Alastair Seeley at the North West 200.
Dunlop was close to lap record pace, setting the fastest speed of 102.994mph and raising the prospect of his brother Michael’s 2013 benchmark of 103.191mph being exceeded on Saturday.
Dean Harrison impressed on his way to third – crossing the line hot on Martin’s heels – as the English rider makes only his second appearance at the ‘Race of Legends’.
Behind the top three, Keith Amor (Rig Deluge Honda) narrowly held off Derek McGee (Yamaha) for fourth, with Derek Sheils rounding out the top six.
Dunlop also sealed pole position in the Superbike class on the Tyco BMW Superstock machine aahead of team-mate Martin, with Dublin’s Sheils third on the BikeBits NI Kawasaki.
Scotsman Amor was fourth ahead of Michael Dunlop (MD Racing BMW) and Ryan Farquhar on the SGS/KMR Kawasaki.
Farquhar took pole in the Supertwins class from Derek McGee and Connor Behan, with Guy Martin fifth (Cookstown/BE Racing Kawasaki).
Roads close on Saturday morning at 10am for an 11-race programme.