Race action at the 2021 Armoy Road Races, kick started in gripping fashion as Michael Dunlop thrilled the knowledgeable crowds around Armoy.
A last minute entrant for the 250cc class, he maintained the form he showed during qualifying in this evening’s Diamond Bar & Mermaid Club Lightweight race.
Following the original race start coming to an early conclusion following an incident involving Neil Kernohan, the five lap restart saw the 19 times TT winner embroiled in a classic battle with Derek McGee for overall race honours.
Evenly matched throughout, Mullingar’s McGee aboard the Faraldo Racing FR 450 GP machine, was showcasing his undoubted capabilities.
Ultimately though he had to settle for second best behind Dunlop, who alongside taking race spoils by the margin of 0.403 of a second, recorded a record lap time for 250’s at Armoy of 1 minute 53.564 seconds.
Road racing returnee, Lightweight Supersport class runner-up Seamus Elliott took third, Stephen Tobin, Alan Johnston occupied fourth and fifth with the top six rounded out by Tim Walsh.
Remaining race finishers were Aidan Cleary 7th, Jonathan Watt 8th, Rad Hughes 9th, 250 runner-up Gareth Arnold 10th, Kevin Barsby 11th, Lee Osprey 12th.
Ben Mullane 13th, Darren Duncan 14th, Dave Walsh 15th, Brian Loughlin 16th, Kelly Carruthers 17th, Aaron Boyd 18th and 19th, final finisher James Rothery.
Returning to aforementioned eight times successive ‘Race of Legends’ winner Dunlop, post his 20th Armoy victory, he quickly turned his attentions to the opening Supersport race sponsored by Hilton Car Sales.
As within the Lightweight race, YZF R6 Yamaha mounted Dunlop was on pole position following another stellar qualifying performance.
Despite the race been a relevant sprint (five lap distance), lightness fading, the action was equally if not more exciting than anticipated.
In contrast to the prior Lightweight 250/400/450 contest, the main challenger middleweight class wise to Dunlop was McAdoo Kawasaki’s Adam McLean.
With Derek McGee not taking part, highly rated new wave roads talent McLean firmly led the opposition to the Ballymoney roads great and began the race in fine style by edging ahead of his fellow countryman.
Just 0.065 covered McLean, Dunlop on lap two, lap three would see just 0.030 between them before Dunlop made a decisive move to the front on the fourth and penultimate lap.
Lap five saw the Supersport TT lap record holder well and truly pull the pin, pulling by the chequered flag almost 1.7 seconds clear of McLean.
Dunlop’s latest roads triumph respectively takes his Armoy, Irish Road Race wins total to 21, 106.
Joining Dunlop, McLean on the podium was Wilson Craig Racing’s Davey Todd whilst Michael Browne took a strong fourth ahead of BE Racing In Conjunction with Richardson Kelly Racing team mate Paul Jordan.
Wrapping up the top ten finishers were Cowton Racing’s Dominic Herbertson 6th, Joe Loughlin 7th, Joe Thompson 8th, Andy Farrell 9th and Graham Kennedy 10th.
Photo credit: Rod Neill
Words by Stevie Rial #dontletfearcontrolyou