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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Joe Loughlin wins five at Walderstown

Joe Loughlin took five wins at the Race of the South in Walderstown, making him the most successful rider at the weekend.

He won both the non championship and championship races in the Junior and Senior Support classes as well as taking victory in the Supertwins race. Other winners at the event included Adam McLean, Derek McGee and Derek Sheils.

Loughlin beat RJ Woolsey and Ben Mullane in the non championship Junior Support race. He set a new track record for the class on his way to a comfortable 27 second victory.  Backing this up, he went on to win the championship race by just over 20 seconds – again from Woolsey. This time Liam Chawke joined them on the podium. It was a closer fought affair in Senior Support, Loughlin’s winning margin just eight seconds in the non championship race. David and Damien Howard joined him on the podium. It was four out of four for Loughlin in the support classes with a nine second victory over Damien Howard in the championship leg of the race. David Howard was third.

Elsewhere, McLean backed up his impressive recent form with another win in the Supersport class. He took his first 600cc victory at Cookstown in April and once again he beat William Dunlop on his way to the chequered flag. It was a narrow margin as he crossed the line just four tenths clear with Paul Jordan a fine third just a further three tenths back. Jordan also set the fastest lap of the race. Michael Sweeney was fourth ahead of road racing newcomer Davey Todd.

Also standing on the top step of the podium was McGee who held off Dunlop to take the victory in the Open race. Sweeney took third place ahead of Sheils and Jordan. Sheils started from pole position for the Grand Final and took the win, setting the fastest lap on the way. McGee was second and Dunlop was third. In the Supertwins the top five were separated by just over three seconds with Loughlin taking the win. McLean finished in second place ahead of Sheils, McGee and Sweeney.

The Classics were also in action with a Junior and Senior race. Barry Davidson beat Richard Ford in the Junior Classic race with Sean Leonard joining them on the podium. Robert McCrum took the victory in the Senior Classic race while Ford was second and Davidson third. Paul Gartland won the 400cc race beating Mark Shiels, Steve Tobin, Aaron Boyd and Gerard Cummins.

Close racing set to continue on the roads at Tandragee 100

The Irish road racing season is set to continue this weekend at the Tandragee 100. Following exciting and close racing at the Cookstown 100 last weekend, the action resumes with around 350 entries confirmed for Bank Holiday weekend.

The Around-A-Pound Tandragee 100 will take place over two days with the likes of Cookstown’s Man of the Meeting William Dunlop, Ryan Farquhar, and Keith Amor in attendance. They will be joined by by Jamie Hamilton, Davy Morgan, Michael Sweeney, and Derek McGee who were all also in action last weekend. Other names on the entry list include Jeremy McWilliams, Seamus Elliott, Robert McCrum and Connor Behan. As well as many ‘local’ stars and riders from the mainland, there will be a number of overseas competitors set to compete. Dario Cecconi from Italy, Eric Goedhart from Dubai, Fabrice Faivre from France and Rafael Paschoalin from Brazil also feature on the entry list.

Last year saw Dan Kneen, Dunlop and Farquhar take victories while everyone was saddened by the death of Junior Support rider Noel Murphy. It was a momentous weekend in Farquhar’s career as he notched up his 200th road racing victory in the Classics while riding a Paton. He will be making his return to the Superbike class this year, following his comeback last year in just the Supertwins. Dunlop will be hoping to repeat his Supersport victory from last year and if his form is anything like it was at Cookstown on the CD Racing 600 he will be untouchable. McGee finished second in the Supersport race at Cookstown, seven tenths off Dunlop in the Championship race, and he will undoubtedly be another rider to watch out for on his Wilson Craig Hondas as he gears up for his TT debut this year. Two podiums for BE Racing’s Hamilton in Cookstown set a high standard for his year on the roads. He took third in the Supersport Invitational race as well as in the Supertwin class. He backed that up with fourth in the second Supersport race and fifth in the Cookstown 100 race itself. Last year he was third in the Open race at Tandragee. Other riders to keep an eye on include Amor and Sweeney, the former of which was a close second to Dunlop in the Supersport race last year. Sweeney was runner up to Michael Dunlop in the Supertwin class at the Cookstown 100.

While there were 18 races at the Cookstown 100, there will be just nine at Tandragee. The schedule is set to kick off with the First Open Race followed by Junior Support (201cc – 400cc), Supersport, and Classic. The Classic race will be split into three classes: up to 250cc, 250cc – 350cc, and 350cc – 1000cc. Following that the 250cc GPs and Forgotten Era will race, with the sixth race of the day encompassing 125cc, 400cc Supersport, and 450cc. Rounding up the action will be Senior Support (401cc – 750cc), Supertwins, and finally the Tandragee 100 itself.

There will be live race commentary available at www.irish-roadracers-media.com while fans can also follow the Tandragee 100 Twitter account. As well as all the racing action there will also be a Parade Lap and a Richard Britton Tribute Lap to mark 10 years since his passing. Four of his bikes will be on display in the paddock as well as being taken around the circuit. There will be awards for the Best Classic Newcomer Performance (the Joe McKeown Memorial Trophy), Man of the Meeting, and Fastest Lap of the Day.

The Tandragee 100 will be followed by the first International Road Race of the year – the North West 200 which kicks off in a week and a half.

A Review of the Year: Road Racing – End of Year

It was an exciting year on the Irish roads (along with Scarborough and the Isle of Man) and the road racing year ended with a trip to Macau. Michael Rutter was looking for his ninth victory but it was returnee Ian Hutchinson who came away with the win. After taking pole position by just five hundredths of a second, he took a 2.5 second win over Rutter and Gary Johnson.

This post completes a five part look back at 2013: April & May, June, July, August & September.  It will give a brief overview of the end of year standings in the Irish Road Racing Championships.

Classes with 8 Rounds

Superbike

Superbikes

Senior Support

Senior Support

Junior Classic

Junior Classic

Senior Classic

Senior Classic

250cc Classic

250cc Classic

500cc Classic

500cc Classic

Classes with 7 rounds

125cc GP

125cc GP

250cc GP

250cc GP

Supersport 400

Supersport 400

Supertwins

Supertwins

Supersport

Supersport

Duke Road Race Rankings

In the Duke Road Race Rankings, the top ten at the end of the year was as follows:

1. Michael Dunlop (2729) 2. Dean Harrison (1912) 3. Jamie Hamilton(1845) 4. Guy Martin (1740) 5. William Dunlop (1688) 6. James Cowton (1116) 7. Chris Palmer (1093) 8. Michael Sweeney (1076) 9. Ivan Lintin (826) 10. Bruce Anstey (824)

2014 News

“I never expected to be riding for Hector and Philip [Neill] this year. It just shows you what can happen in racing, and now that I am, I can’t wait to get started.” – William Dunlop confirmed that he will be riding for Tyco Suzuki in 2014.

Michael Dunlop took to Facebook to announce that he will not be racing this year. “I have not signed any contracts for 2014 mainly due to various complications attached to each offer put to me. I am disappointed to be in this situation, especially after the tremendous season I enjoyed in 2013 and the success I achieved.”

Honda Motor Europe will be fielding John McGuinness and new recruit Conor Cummins on the roads in 2014. “I am thrilled to bits to be with Honda in 2014,” Cummins said.

Ryan Farquhar and Keith Amor are to come out of retirement for the 2014 Isle of Man TT.

James Hillier has confirmed that he will take place in all classes at this year’s North West 200.

The Amended Road Closures Bill was granted Royal Assent in early January. It means that organisers of road races in Northern Ireland will have more flexibility should the weather wreck havoc with their race schedules.

A Review of the Year: Road Racing – August & September

In part four of this review of the year (2013) in road racing, we look at the Mid-Antrim 100, the Ulster Grand Prix, the inaugural Classic TT, and Killalane. The first second and third parts can be found here (April & May), here (June), and here (July).

August 2013

The first meeting in August was the Mid-Antrim 150, a race first held in 1946. It was another action packed programme with winners including Paul Robinson, Jamie Hamilton and Derek Sheils.

Robinson won the Moto3 race ahead of Sam Dunlop and Nigel Moore. Gavin Lupton was the winner in the Supersport 400 race, finishing ahead of Mark Shiels and Wayne Hall. Seamus Elliott was first of three classified riders in the Moto 450 class, beating Darren Gilpin and Dave Walsh.

Hamilton took his sixth Irish Road Race Supertwin victory (out of a possible six) when he beat William Davison and Nigel Moore. Michael Sweeney was the winner in the 250 race, beating Davy Morgan and Sam Dunlop. Hamilton notched up a second win of the meeting in the Supersport race beating Elliott and Sam Wilson. Sheils won the Superbike race ahead of Hamilton and Elliott.

Mark Hanna won both the Junior and Senior Support races, beating Connor Behan and Lupton in the Junior and Shane Egan and James Kelly in the Senior. Barry Davidson once again won the Junior Classic race – seven out of seven wins for him – while John Scott won the Senior Classic.

In the Grand Final, Michael Sweeney finished ahead of Morgan, Elliott, Davison, Wilson, and Andy Farrell.

Next up was the Ulster Grand Prix and Dundrod 150, although the latter had to be called off due to the weather. The Ulster Grand Prix saw Guy Martin crowned ‘Man of the Meeting’ after taking a hat-trick of victories and beating Michael Dunlop. Martin also took the opportunity to announce his contract extension with Tyco Suzuki.

Ivan Lintin beat Jamie Hamilton in the Supertwins race by just 0.048s. The race was red flagged after Peter McKillop crashed. This allowed Hamilton, who had slid off his own bike at Leathemstown to take part in the re-start and fight back. He was unable to beat Lintin, who in turn secured his first International road race victory. Lee Johnston finished just a second back in third place. The Moto3 class had gone out with the Supertwins and it was Ian Lougher, on his last appearance at the Ulster Grand Prix, who took victory. He beat Christian Elkin by just three tenths of a second. Paul Jordan was 27 seconds down the road but finished in third.

Martin’s first victory came in the first Supersport race, which he won after starting in pole position. Bruce Anstey finished in second place and Johnston finished in third. Anstey’s podium completed a highly impressive record of finishing on the podium at least once at every North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix for the past ten years. M Dunlop failed to finish the race due to clutch problems.

M Dunlop had qualified on pole position for the main race – the Ulster Grand Prix (Superbike) – but lost the lead on the opening lap to Martin. The Tyco Suzuki rider continued to lead through to the final lap but M Dunlop closed the gap when the pair met backmarkers. Martin went on to win by just under a tenth of a second. William Dunlop came home in third.

W Dunlop won the most dramatic and exciting race of the day – the second Supersport event. Martin, who had won the feature race, failed to start while M Dunlop had a disappointing get away. W Dunlop took the early lead ahead of Anstey and Conor Cummins. The leading duo pulled away and enjoyed a close battle which went down to the wire. Anstey led W Dunlop on the last lap but ran wide. W Dunlop then did the same, however, and allowed Anstey to have another run on him into the Quarries. When the pair crossed the line it was W Dunlop who was ahead – by 0.073s – having gone round the outside on the final corner to take the win. Cummins held on to third place.

In the second Superbike race, there was further drama as M Dunlop was wheeled off the grid before the start. Martin took his hat-trick of victories, finishing ahead of Anstey and Cummins. After a day of disappointments, M Dunlop did salvage a win when he beat Gary Johnson and Anstey in the Superstock class.

Many riders traveled straight from the Ulster to the Isle of Man for the inaugural Classic TT. The event kicked off with a Paddock Carnival, which saw everyone get into the swing of things by donning costumes from the 1960s.

The racing action got going with the 500cc class, won by Olie Linsdell. William Dunlop was runner up with Jamie Coward. A number of riders got into difficulties with their bikes with John McGuinness, Cameron Donald, Bruce Anstey and Michael Dunlop amongst those retiring from the race. The 350/250cc race was won dominantly by Chris Palmer, who finished a minute clear of team-mate Donald. Daniel Cooper claimed his first Isle of Man podium by finishing third. Jamie Hamilton had looked like he might challenge for a podium but came off his bike (uninjured).

Jonathan Cutts came home first in the 250ccs with Peter Wakefield and Geoff Bates completing the podium. The third and final race of the meeting was the Formula 1/Formula 2/Formula Classics. Michael Dunlop romped to victory in the F1 class – despite a slipping clutch and oil leak, finishing a minute ahead of Conor Cummins, who in turn was a further minute ahead of third place Ryan Kneen. Palmer took another victory in the F2 Classics, beating James Cowton and Philip McGurk. Dean Harrison was the first of only three finishers on the Formula Classics, beating Gavin Lupton and Chris McGahan.

September 2013

The final meeting of 2013 on the Irish roads was Killalane. Paul Robinson, William Dunlop, and Connor Behan were among the race winners.

Robinson was once again victorious in the Moto3 race, beating Sam Dunlop and Wayne Reeve. W Dunlop won the 250 race ahead of Michael Sweeney and John Ella. David Howard won the Supersport 400 race ahead of David Yeomans and Andy Farrell. Michael Sweeney was victorious in Supertwins, beating Derek McGee and Farrell.

The Dunlop brothers took home five wins between them. As well as his 250 win, W Dunlop also won the Supersport race, finishing ahead of his brother and McGee. M Dunlop’s wins were in the Superbike race (beating Derek Sheils and Sweeney), the Grand Final (ahead of Sheils and Sweeney again), and the Senior Classic, beating Robert McCrum.

Connor Behan won the Junior Support class, beating Mark Hanna and Shane Egan. Hanna won the Senior Support with James Kelly finishing second and Egan third. Barry Davidson once again won the Junior Classic.

Michael Dunlop won the Gold Cup at Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough, holding off Guy Martin from winning his ninth title there. Ian Lougher won the 250cc race and Davy Morgan won the Solo Non-Finalist race.

 

Dunlop brothers amongst Armoy race winners

Michael Dunlop's Supersport bike
Michael Dunlop’s Supersport bike

Local boys Michael and William Dunlop were amongst the winners at the fifth annual Armoy road races. William Dunlop won the Supersport and 250cc races, while his brother Michael was victorious in both Superbike races, including the ‘Race of Legends’. The Dunlop brothers were joined at the meeting by Guy Martin, Conor Cummins, and relative road racing newbie Jeremy McWilliams, amongst others.

A sunny Saturday featured an action packed eleven race programme, including practice sessions left over from Friday. This included qualifying for the Senior Support race and the Supertwins. The 125cc race kicked off the day with Christian Elkin coming home victorious. He finished ahead of Sam Dunlop and Sam Wilson. In the Junior Support race it was Mark Hanna who was the winner, with Connor Behan in second and Shane Egan third. In the first big race of the day, the Supersport race, it was Michael Dunlop who had qualified on pole position ahead of William Dunlop and Guy Martin. When the lights went out it was Guy Martin who got the best start, leading the group into the chicane and the start of the lap. KMR rider Jamie Hamilton impressively got into second and the pair maintained 1-2 for the first lap. However, as the race progressed William Dunlop moved into the lead and eventually won the race, setting a new fastest lap and lap record on the way. He finished ahead of Michael Dunlop and Guy Martin. Jamie Hamilton had to settle for fourth, a second down on third.

Guy Martin's Superbike
Guy Martin’s Superbike

Next up were the Junior Classic machines with Barry Davidson remaining unbeaten this year in the 350cc class. Kevin Strowger was the first 250cc home but not without problems. He started on the front row of the grid but on the warm up lap he had problems getting away, and was left lagging behind. He made it to the back of the third group just in time to start the race (with no time to spare) and classified third on corrected time. In the first Superbike race of the day it was Michael Dunlop who started from pole, with Derek Shiels and Guy Martin also on the front row. The order did not change much in the race with Michael Dunlop winning, but finishing ahead of Guy Martin in second and Derek Shiels in third. The lap record was broken by Michael Dunlop with it rising from 105.893mph to 106.812mph. In the Senior Classic race Robert McCrum ran away with the race, finishing a staggering 19 seconds clear of Richard Ford and John Scott.

William Dunlop was the winner in the 250cc race, finished ahead of Sam Wilson and Michael Sweeney. Andy Farrell, Gavin Lupton, and Vic Allan finished on the podium for the 400cc race. They were joined by the Moto 450 class on the grid, with Seamus Elliot winning from Darren Gilpin. Next up was the Senior Support race which was won by Armoy newcomer Connor Behan on a KMR Kawasaki. On his way to the chequered flag he broke the lap record by over 2mph. He finished ahead of Mark Hanna and Shane Egan.

Jamie Hamilton practices at Armoy
Jamie Hamilton practices at Armoy

The Supertwins race saw unbeaten Jamie Hamilton line up alongside team-mate, and road-racing newcomer Jeremy McWilliams. He gap between the pair in qualifying was just over two seconds. It was an extremely close fought race between the pair of them, with McWilliams attaching himself to Hamilton’s rear wheel for most of the seven laps. In the end Jamie Hamilton crossed the line to take the chequered flag just 0.082s ahead of his team-mate. Jeremy McWilliams did, however, break the lap record en route to an impressive second place.  William Davison completed the podium. The final race of the day was the second Superbike race, known as the ‘Race of Legends’. Michael Dunlop took his second victory finishing seven seconds ahead of William Dunlop with Derek Shiels in third. Guy Martin had to fight back from tenth after overshooting the chicane on the first lap and losing ground. Conor Cummins had a problem on the grid, and completed only two laps before retiring.

Tim Reeves and Dan Sayle take to the track at Armoy
Tim Reeves and Dan Sayle take to the track at Armoy

Fans at the meeting were treated to parade laps by Tim Reeves and Dan Sayle in their TT winning side-car. Four times world champion Tim Reeves is pushing for side-cars to feature at Armoy in the future.

A full list of the results can be found here.