Whilst all eyes were on Michael Dunlop as he secured his seventh Race of Legends feature race win in a row, it was Derek McGee who came away from the weekend as Man of the Meeting.
The Mullingar man was awarded the accolade after accumulating the most points with a win in the first Supersport race, second in the second Supersport race and the Open, and fourth in the Grand Final.
Practice sessions were held on Friday with times counting for qualifying, with the first two races taking place on Friday evening. In the Senior Support race it was two Armoy newcomers battling for the win. Joe Loughlin – who has been in control of the Junior/Senior Support classes all year – ultimately lost out to Adam Lyon, with the Scottish rider coming from the second group to win on corrected time by just over three seconds. David Howard joined the pair on the podium.
The first Supersport race was red flagged twice and the result was eventually declared after just two racing laps. The first red flag was caused by a incident involving Adam McLean and Paul Jordan. Both riders were OK and returned to the paddock on the back of marshals bikes. When the race was restarted it was red flagged again when weather conditions took a turn for the worse. A heavy downpour coupled with Michael Dunlop’s bike blowing up and leaving oil on the track meant that racing was halted for the night. McGee was declared the winner with road racing newcomer Davey Todd finishing second and Christian Elkin third.
On Saturday changeable weather conditions greeted race organisers and riders but a full programme was run with limited disruption. First up was Junior Support run over seven laps and this race was won by Loughlin who beat Marc Ironside and Glenn Walker. Then came Moto 3/125 won by Elkin riding a Moto 3. McLean was second and the leading 125 rider while Paul Robinson completed the podium in third. Ian Lougher finished fourth just shy of a second ahead of Gary Dunlop in fifth.
The second Supersport race was won by M Dunlop but he didn’t have it all his own way. McGee initially took the lead as Dunlop came through from seventh on the grid. He progressed up the order, overtaking Elkin at the start of the second lap before slotting into second by passing McLean at the start of lap three. He then closed down McGee’s leading margin before overtaking him and eventually securing a three second victory. James Cowton was third ahead of Todd (from the second group), McLean and newcomer Joey Thompson.
There was a red flag incident following three laps of the Classic race and a slight delay as an oil spill was cleared up. Ed Manly was the eventual winner when the race was re-run over four laps. He was joined on the podium by Wattie Brown and Barry Davidson.
Race seven of the event was the Open race and this saw M Dunlop achieve his second win of the day. The race was declared wet following a downpour just before the start and riders were given a sighting lap with the view of returning to the paddock to change tyres should they decide to. McGee returned to the grid straight away and revealed that most of the track – apart from the start – was wet. There was another warm up lap before a six lap race and it was McGee – riding his Kawasaki 600 – who took the initial lead. He started to pull away but M Dunlop soon caught and passed him, eventually winning by just over 4.5 seconds. William Dunlop crossed the line in third after catching and passing Cowton, but it was Todd who took the podium with corrected time from the second group. Paul Jordan was fifth on the IMR Evolution Camping BMW ahead of Cowton, Thompson, Mark Goodings, Dominic Herbertson and Forest Dunn.
Another rain downpour brought a red flag out in the Lightweight Supersport race but it wasn’t delayed for long. Neil Kernohan was the eventual winner, beating Darryl Tweed (who was the first 400cc rider) and Callum Laidlaw. McGee took the win in the Supertwin class after an exciting battle with McLean. The latter had been holding onto second place until the last lap when he was passed by Cowton. Elkin finished in fourth ahead of Michael Sweeney, Brad Vicars and Paul Gartland.
The penultimate race of the meeting was the second Senior Support and this time Loughlin got the better of Lyon, who came from the second group. The pair were once again joined on the podium by Howard who beat Ironside, Tommy Henry, Stephen McKeown and Alan Johnston.
Following a sighting lap and then a warm-up, the Grand Final – the Race of Legends – was run over seven laps. M Dunlop was in a class of his own on his Hawk Racing Suzuki, as he romped to a 12 second win over his brother William. Sweeney finished the race in third place, mere tenths of a second off second. McGee was fourth ahead of Cowton, Thompson, Todd and Jordan. Davy Morgan led the second group riders to finish in ninth, beating Goodings, Herbertson, Graham Kennedy, Vicars, Dunn and Laidlaw.
While McGee secured Man of the Meeting, Loughlin was named Support Man of the Meeting.