Tag: Armoy

Derek McGee Man of the Meeting at Armoy as Michael Dunlop secures seventh Race of Legends win

Derek McGee Man of the Meeting at Armoy as Michael Dunlop secures seventh Race of Legends win

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.

 

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Five reasons to attend an Irish road race

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Cookstown 100 2015 © The H Duct
Motorbikes? Check. Public roads? Check. Sunshine? Occasional check…

Irish road racing, there’s nothing quite like it. Every year hundreds of riders turn up to compete on closed public roads north and south of the border, literally ‘between the hedges’. The Isle of Man TT may get most of the attention but there are plenty of reasons to attend an Irish national road race – at the likes of Tandragee, Cookstown, Armoy –  in 2017. Here are just five:

1) Close racing

With mass starts, and two or three groups, there are plenty of riders providing plenty of action throughout the grid. Races can be incredibly close – for example William and Michael Dunlop were separated by just 0.007s in one race at Armoy last year. Due to the different groups leaving the grid at different times, a rider from the second or third group can win the race on corrected time adding an extra level of excitement and intrigue. It’s not often you get to see bikes go wheel to wheel on narrow roads with fields on either side.

2) Full schedules

While the International races feature just the Superbike, Supersport, Superstock and Supertwin classes, National races include classics and support. This means on a race day there will be a good mixture of classes and more riders get a chance to compete. You certainly get plenty of bang for your buck – although a lot of races are free to watch. Which brings me to my next point…

3) Support local clubs

It has been well documented recently that insurance prices are significantly rising year on year meaning many clubs are struggling. A number of races have sadly been struck from the calendar because they are not financially viable to continue running. While many road races are free to attend, fans can still support clubs by buying a programme or paying to sit on the grandstands. The programmes are full of information about riders, interviews, previous results and give full itineraries of the event races and riders taking part. Supporting the clubs will help to insure more races aren’t lost in the future.

4)  Top talent

All the attention may be focused on the return of a certain truck mechanic from Grimsby, but the Irish road racing scene is frequented by a number of other talented riders throughout the year. Of course the Dunlop name is synonymous with road racing in Ireland and Michael, William, Gary and Sam are regulars at the nationals. You’ll also get to see the likes of Derek Sheils, Derek McGee, Davy Morgan, Dean Harrison, and Dan Kneen to name a few. Michal Dokoupil is a frequent visitor to the Irish nationals along with Veronika Hankocyova. Paul Jordan, Michael Sweeney, Adam McLean, James Cowton and Gareth Keys are just a few more of the riders you can see in action.

5) Get closer to the action

While health and safety may have kicked into gear, meaning some areas that were once available for viewing have become prohibited, you can still get closer to the action than you would at a circuit. Nothing prepares you for the sheer exhilaration of seeing a bike flash past you when you’re standing just at the other side of the hedge or the fence. As the races are held on closed public roads quite often the paddocks are in muddy fields or a farmyard. People help each other out and it is a real community – where else would you see a competitor help work on a fellow competitor’s bike? Irish road racing is really something else.

Road racing is currently the topic of a three part documentary by DoubleBand films on BBC Northern Ireland and it shows just what it means to those who are part of the sport – from the riders to the fans and everyone in between. There’s no sport quite like it and once you go once, you’ll be hooked. Sitting in a muddy field, getting rained on or battered by the wind is not generally my idea of fun, but throw in a few bikes and some good company and you’re in a for a good day!

Close racing thrills fans at Armoy

Close racing thrills fans at Armoy

Local riders Michael and William Dunlop were amongst the race winners at last weekend’s Armoy road races.

Racing was held largely in the dry and it didn’t disappoint the thousands of fans around the circuit. Following qualifying on Friday, the first race of the meeting was held and it saw the Dunlop brothers go wheel to wheel in a thrilling battle.

IMG_1114It was William Dunlop who took the lead early on. Michael Dunlop found his way past Sheils and Dan Kneen to finish just 0.007s behind William as they crossed the line. Sheils was just 1.7 seconds back in third, ahead of Kneen, Christian Elkin, Michael Sweeney and Michal Dokoupil.

That was all the racing action for the first day and the rest continued on Saturday following a parade lap.

First up on the order was Junior Support, a race won by James Chawke. He finished 2.443 seconds clear of Brad Vicars with Philip Crosbie in third. Veronika Hankocyova was fourth ahead of Andrew McMullan and Ian Simpson.

Christian Elkin was the clear winner in the Moto 3/125cc GP race, the leading Moto 3 rider home over 125cc racer Sam Wilson. Paul Jordan finished in third ahead of Adam McLean and Neil Kernohan. Justin Waring was sixth ahead of Darryl Tweed – who returned following an accident on Friday – and Gary Dunlop on his Armoy debut.

In the second Supersport race William enjoyed a comfortable win over Sheils and Sweeney. Third, fourth, and fifth were separated by just eight tenths of a second with Jordan and Elkin missing out on a podium finish. Michael failed to start the race.

While William was on top in the Supersport classes, it was Michael Dunlop who led the way in both Superbike races. The first was a close affair won by 1.655 seconds with Sheils in second, and William in third. Kneen was fourth with McGee fifth, Sweeney sixth and Dokoupil seventh. In the Race of Legends the first attempt was red flagged following a non serious incident involving Dokoupil. The break allowed William Dunlop to fix a problem with his radiator and he made the restart having failed toIMG_1095 start the original race. It was Michael Dunlop who won – this time by 4.5 seconds – ahead of Sheils and William.

The Supertwins provided the best entertainment of the day, with any one of five or six riders in contention to take the race win over the seven laps of the race. The lead changed hands a number of times and the top five were separated by mere tenths of a second for most of the race. In the end it was James Cowton who narrowly beat Sweeney by 0.091 seconds. Elkin was a tenth off the leader in third, with Jordan fourth and McLean fifth.

Kernohan won the 250cc Lightweight 400/450 race by 18 seconds over Davy Morgan. Morgan came from the back of the third group to finish an impressive second – particularly after the disappointment of having the bike seize on him during practice. Paul Robinson was third in class. Dokoupil was the leading 400cc rider home ahead of Tweed and David Howard.

The first race in the Senior Support class was hampered by three red flags – twice for riders coming off at the chicane. They were all uninjured but the third attempt was red flagged due to there still being marshals in the fields cleaning up after the second incident. When the race eventually went the full distance it was Brad Vicars who won, beating Tommy Henry and Stephen Casey. In the Classic race Barry Davidson beat Ed Manly and George Stinson. Davidson set a new lap record on the way to a three second victory.

William Dunlop picked up the Man of the Meeting award while Malachi Mitchell-Thomas was posthumously confirmed as Ulster Supertwin champion. 

 

 

Michael Dunlop joins forces with Hawk Racing for 2016

Michael Dunlop will ride for Buildbase BMW during the 2016 road racing season.

 

The Ballymoney rider will reunite with Hawk Racing with whom he won three races at the 2014 Isle of Man TT.

He will compete on Hawk Racing machinery at the North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix along with the TT. “I’m coming back to the TT to win again,” Dunlop stated, making his intentions clear. “I gave it my best last year but the Superbike crash wasn’t the best preparation for the Senior. My last lap at the TT reminded everyone what I can do and with these boys behind me I’m ready to race properly again.”

 

 

Dunlop endured a tricky 2015 season with the Yamaha R1 before making a last minute swap on the eve of the first TT races to BMW. His subsequent crash hampered the rest of his season but he overcame injury to win at the Armoy Race of Legends. He will be hoping to move back to the front of the field with BMW this season.

Steve Hicken, Hawk Racing’s Team Manager, shared Dunlop’s high hopes for the year ahead. “We’re delighted to have Michael back on board for 2016. We know what we have to do to get him back on the top step,” he revealed. “With a proper lead time to prepare this year we’re looking forward to helping him achieve his ambitions.”

 

 

William Dunlop confirms 2016 plans

William Dunlop has confirmed his plans for the 2016 road racing season.

Following his split from Tyco BMW, Dunlop will further his partnership with Chris Dowd’s CD/IC Racing for the year ahead. He was a dominant force on the R6 Yamaha in the Supersport class this year, taking nine wins from nine races at the National road races. This included victories at Armoy, Cookstown, and Kells. He was the clear winner of the Irish and Ulster Supersport Championships as well as winning the Superbike class.

In a post on his website Dunlop said that 2015 had been a “difficult year” which featured accidents at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT which compromised his running. “I had success nationally winning the Irish Championships on the Supersport and Superbike,” Dunlop wrote. “At the International road races there was a combination of bad luck and my own fault with a couple of crashes. One at the North West 200 where I fractured a handful of vertebrae in my back, [and] another a couple of weeks later on the last day of practice at the Isle of Man TT which ended that event for me. I was lucky just to break one rib and now I’m glad to see the winter time to get myself all good again for 2016.”

Dunlop will race in all classes for CD/IC Racing. “We are keeping the R6 built by Marcus [Eschenbacher] and his guys,” the Ballymoney man continued. “Chris has everything in place for them to build us a brand new R1. I can’t say how excited I am to be part of this and to have their involvement with the Superbike along with Graham Irvine for my suspension. If anyone has a chance to make this bike work on the roads it is this team. I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead in 2016 and also to enjoy my racing. I get on with everyone here and it feels like a second family to me.”

The team will reveal plans for the Superstock class  in “due course”.

2015: Ulster Grand Prix Preview

The world’s finest road racers are about to take to the track for the world’s fastest road race, with the start of the Ulster Grand Prix race week just days away.

Lap record holder Bruce Anstey will be joined by Ian Hutchinson, William and Michael Dunlop, and Guy Martin. Along with the likes of Keith Amor, Conor Cummins, Dean Harrison, Lee Johnston, Dan Kneen, Ivan Lintin, Peter Hickman, and Glenn Irwin it is a stellar line-up set to compete at the third International road racing event of the year.

Bike Week runs from 3rd – 8th August, with practice and racing taking place on the Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. A host of events are planned for the week and a programme of the schedule can be found on the Ulster Grand Prix official website. Practice sessions will take place on the Wednesday, with roads due to close at 12pm, with Dundrod 150 races taking place on Thursday along with further practice for the Ulster Grand Prix. Racing for the main event will take place on the Saturday. Roads are due to close at 10.30am on Thursday, opening again by 9.30pm while they will close at 8.30am on Saturday morning.

Last year Bruce Anstey was named Man of the Meeting, taking wins in both the Supersport and Superbike classes. There were difficult conditions on the Saturday and a number of red flags but there was some close racing including a 0.001 second victory for Dan Kneen over Dean Harrison in the Superstock race.  Anstey and Guy Martin went wheel to wheel in the Dundrod 150 Superbike race and the corresponding race in the Ulster Grand Prix. Martin took the laurels in the Dundrod 150 race, beating Anstey and Michael Dunlop, while Anstey overtook the Tyco Suzuki rider on the last lap of the Superbike race on Saturday. Lee Johnston finished in third place. The feature race and one of the Supersport races were later abandoned due to deteriorating weather conditions.

The most recent Irish National Road Race was at Armoy last weekend, where Michael and William Dunlop were amongst the race winners. Guy Martin was also in strong form, winning the first Superbike race ahead of his team-mate. Martin is the most successful current rider at the Ulster Grand Prix and he is one of the favourites to add further wins to his tally. There has been plenty of national action since the last international road race – the Isle of Man TT in June – as well as the Southern 100. At the North West 200 in May it may have been Alistair Seeley monopolising the top step of the podium, but riders including Lee Johnston and Glenn Irwin put in strong performances and they will be ones to watch this coming week. Irwin made his Ulster Grand Prix debut last year and this year will see him with John Burrows BE Racing team on the Supertwin. He is standing in for Jamie Hamilton who was seriously injured in an accident at the TT but is recovering well. Ian Hutchinson was back to winning ways at the TT – securing a hat-trick of victories – and he will no doubt be hoping to continue his strong form into the Ulster. Bruce Anstey can never be discounted as his impressive record of a podium finish at every North West 200, TT and Ulster Grand Prix since his 2002 proves. Another one to watch will be Peter Hickman who made his debut last year and completed a 131mph lap of the Dundrod circuit.

This year the Ulster Grand Prix has launched an app in association with FanZone which includes features such as allowing fans to arrange car shares and travel arrangements for the week. The app is available to download for free on both iOS and Android.

Wristbands for the week cost £25 and can be purchased from Lidl stores and road ends at the circuit, amongst other places.

Dunlop brothers win at Armoy Road Races

Michael Dunlop was the victorious rider in the feature race at last weekend’s Armoy Road Races.

Dunlop beat Guy Martin in the Race of Legends Grand Final, crossing the line over two seconds clear of the Tyco BMW rider. Dean Harrison rounded off a successful weekend with third place ahead of William Dunlop, Derek McGee, Seamus Elliott, – making his Wilson Craig debut – Andy Lawson, John Walsh, Davy Morgan and Thomas Maxwell.

Earlier in the day Martin had led home a Tyco BMW 1-2 in the first Superbike race, finishing ahead of team-mate William Dunlop, with Derek Sheils in third. Michael Dunlop was fourth ahead of Harrison, Ryan Farquhar and Lawson, who was the leader from the second group. Morgan was eighth ahead of Walsh and Maxwell. Martin also set the fastest lap of the race on his way to the victory.

Racing had commenced on Friday evening with William Dunlop winning the Supersport race by nearly 3.5 seconds from Martin. Dunlop was on his CD Racing Yamaha while Martin was racing a Tyco Suzuki. Harrison finished third ahead of a returning Keith Amor. McGee finished in fifth place with Sheils in sixth and Elliott seventh. Lawson and James Cowton came from the second group to finish eighth and ninth respectively, in front of lead group rider Billy Redmayne. The second Supersport race was run on Saturday and was once again won by Dunlop, again ahead of Martin and Harrison. The latter two on the podium were separated by just 0.034s as they crossed the line. The rest of the top ten was completed by McGee, Sheils, Elliott, Lawson, Redmayne, Connor Behan, and Christian Elkin.

Farquhar beat McGee to victory in the Supertwins race on Saturday with Behan crossing the line in third. Cowton finished ahead of Elkin, Paul Jordan, Lawson, Michal Dokoupil, Andy Farrell, and Darren James. Martin had been due to race in the Supertwins class, riding Jamie Hamilton’s BE Racing bike but he encountered problems on Friday.

Elsewhere Jordan took victory in the Moto 3/125cc race beating Sam Wilson and Nigel Moore. Adam McLean, Sam Dunlop, James Kelly, Neil Kernohan, Sean Leonard, Derek Clark, and Craig Gibson were the other top ten finishers. Wilson won the 250cc race ahead of Michael Dunlop and Paul Robinson. Dunlop was standing in for Michael Sweeney on the BE Racing bike. Stephen Davison won the Non-Qualifiers race.

Junior Support was won by McLean who beat Brian Coomey and Timothy Elwood, while Kevin Fitzpatrick beat Ryan Maher and Dean Campbell in Senior Support. Barry Davidson added another win in the 250cc/350cc Classic class to his tally, beating Mark Johnson and George Stinson. The 500cc/1000cc Classic race was won by Richard Ford who finished ahead of Freddie Stewart and Billy Lyle.

There was a lengthy delay following a red flag in the 400cc race, which was won by Dokoupil. Local rider Ian Simpson was airlifted to hospital where he is said to be in a stable condition. The race was red flagged following five racing laps and the results were declared from the end of the fourth lap which was Elliott in second and David Howard finishing third.

Attention now turns to the Ulster Grand Prix with bike week kicking off on Monday.