CHIEFS at the Armoy Road Races are gearing up for a busy weekend of action and with just under three weeks to go, all eyes are on who will be lining up.
Club bosses have confirmed that Derek McGee will be back challenging for the Irish and Ulster road race championships in the Superbike, Supersport, Supertwin and Moto3 classes after his leg-breaking off at the TT earlier this summer.
Alongside him will be Dubliner Derek Sheils, the current Irish and Ulster Superbike championship leader who comes fresh off a hat-trick at the Skerries 100 for the Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Suzuki squad.
Thomas Maxwell, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Michael Sweeney and local rider Darryl Tweed are all looking like strong contenders in the Supersport ranks as they’re joined by TT top-10 finisher and Englishman Sam West, who will be making his national road race debut, all in a bid to dethrone defending 600 winner Paul Jordan.
With a bumper list of entries from Ireland, the UK and beyond, Clerk of the Course Bill Kennedy MBE has admitted his delight with the variety of riders heading for Armoy.
“We’ve some top class riders and it’s sure to make for some interesting riding on race day,” he said. “We’ve a few entries from foreign riders, like Swiss and German, and 22 newcomers.
“They come from Aberdeenshire to Somerset and from County Cork to Ballymoney, which goes to show just how attractive our 3.03 mile road race is.
“The Classics, although not everyone’s cup of tea, is this year a bit extra special for me given it’s the Frank Kennedy Classics. Cheeky chappie, Dominic Herbertson from Hexham is on a Davies Motorsport Honda Four and newcomer and Welsh man, Mark Purslow, is on a Honda CB500 Four.
“Dominic is definitely one to watch having finished in the top 10 in the IOMTT Senior. Throw into the mix, Barry Davidson with his six Armoy classic wins and the competition is wide open, so it will be very interesting indeed.
“Practice on Friday 26 July is followed by the Senior Support and then Supersport race one, and in the past it has set the tone for the following 10 races on the Saturday. Our own club member and local man, Tommy Henry, is definitely fighting it out at the top of the leader board in the Irish Championship with Bangor man, Andy McAllister, so I’m going to say the Senior Support is equally going to have some exciting racing.
“The Clyde Shanks Supertwins is always a hugely popular race at Armoy, and we’ve a full grid there as has the majority of the races. We are very fortunate this year given there’s another race in England that so many riders have decided to come to Armoy.
“Gary [Dunlop] has been in winning form, currently leading the Irish and Ulster Moto 3/125 GP championship and we’ve a very decent entry for that race too. It’ll be great to see his bike in his father’s (Joey’s) winning colours.
“To be honest I really wasn’t sure how entries would be this year, you just never know, but I am really delighted to see so many make the effort to come along, a big thank you to all of them. Now we just need the weather and the fans.”