Entering it’s eighth year, the Armoy Road Races has year on year grown in popularity with fans, teams and competitors.
The 2016 meeting which carries title sponsorship from SGS International, has attracted a world class entry, across the 11 race schedule.
Superbike/Race of Legends:
All eyes will be on Michael Dunlop and his own teams S1000RR BMW, as he aims to make it six race of legends victories in a row.
Regarded by many as the world’s leading pure road racer, Michael has enjoyed thus far this season, one of his best pure road racing campaign’s to date.
Photo by Baylon McCaughey
The 13 times TT winner, has won at least one race at every roads meeting he has competed, during his 2016 roads campaign, will this continue at Armoy? it’s anticipated to, but many believe they can finish in front of the TT Races lap record holder.
Recently crowned Irish road race superbike champion Derek Sheils, starts in my opinion one of the firm favourites for race of legends success.
Enjoying arguably his best ever season on the roads, the Cookstown BE Racing rider, has in recent years been a consistent front runner on 1000 machinery at Armoy, expect no different at this years meeting.
Photo by Nick Wheeler
Having battled back to fitness following an arm injury, Dan Kneen at the recent Southern 100 and Barry Sheene Festival Powered by Suzuki meeting’s, has enjoyed many a positive moment.
Confident of been in contention for open and race of legends victories on the Mar Train Racing YZF R1M Yamaha, Dan said about the upcoming competition at Armoy:
“I’m feeling good about this weekend, we’ve had some time on the bikes and I was out at Scarborough again last weekend so I’m starting to feel sharp again.
My wrist is feeling a lot stronger than it did at the Southern too so I’m really looking forward to riding the Mar Train bikes again.
I enjoyed Armoy when I was there two years ago, there are some really nice sections to the course, so hopefully my arm is 100 percent and we can move on and fight for wins again for the rest of the season.”
Faugheen 50 Road Races grand final winner Derek McGee on the Noel Williamson Racing S1000RR BMW, also cannot be discounted from standing on the top step of the podium.
Don’t discount as well Michael Sweeney (Martin Jones Racing ZX10R Kawasaki) from securing at least one podium finish.
William Dunlop on his own teams Caffrey International backed YZF R1M Yamaha, has the undoubted pace to win the prestigious race of legends, it’s just a question of how competitive his YZF R1M Yamaha mount will be.
Rising stars all capable of springing a surprise or two include B&W Racing’s Paul Jordan, Logan Racing’s Neil Kernohan, Colin Stephenson, Thomas Maxwell, Kevin Fitzpatrick and 2014 Duke Road Race Rankings champion James Cowton.
Newcomers to watch include ZX10R Kawasaki mounted Forest Dunn and winner of the senior support consolation race at the Southern 100, Brad Vicars.
For the last three years the rider to beat around Armoy, on supersport machinery, has been William Dunlop.
Now competing under his own teams banner with backing from Caffrey International, the reigning Duke Road Race Rankings champion, starts for many and me included the favourite for supersport success at Armoy.
William and his YZF R6 Yamaha will prove extremely hard to beat, but as proven at Walderstown by Derek McGee, it’s not an impossible task.
Derek who goes into Armoy in great form, following a stellar Faugheen 50 Road Races, could well prove the dominant 600 force on the Noel Doyne backed YZF R6 Yamaha.
Fellow YZF R6 Yamaha mounted rider, Mar Train Racing’s Dan Kneen is another leading light, entered in the supersport races.
A proven exponent of the hugely competitive class, we all know he has the talent to finish on top in both 600 encounters.
Rising star Paul Jordan, whilst maybe not considered in the same notion as those mentioned above, could well prove a dark horse for race victories, on the B&W Racing CBR 600 Honda.
Same applies to James Cowton and his own teams CBR 600 Honda, plus also don’t discount Michael Sweeney and Michal Dokoupil from contending for podium finishes.
Added riders set for Armoy supersport action include Davy Morgan, Logan Racing’s Neil Kernohan, Colin Stephenson, Andy Farrell, Thomas Maxwell and anticipated to be amongst the leading newcomers Darryl Tweed.
One of the most difficult races to call at the 2016 SGS International Armoy Road Races, is the feature super twins race.
Amongst the firm pre race favourites include Michael Sweeney (KHR Racing Kawasaki). A two time Junior Manx Grand Prix winner, Michael has the proven roads winning craft to emerge victorious this weekend.
The same notion applies to Michal Dokoupil, who is regarded by many to be amongst continental Europe’s leading exponents of the super twins class.
Paul Jordan (B&W Racing ER6 Kawasaki) currently leading the Irish road race super twins championship, has the drive and determination to seal race victory, as he aims to continue to enhance his growing reputation as one of pure road racing’s fastest rising stars.
It’s Cookstown BE Racing x2 in the super twins race at Armoy, as Derek Sheils is joined in the team by Derek McGee.
Both Derek’s will start amongst the main contenders for success, a possible 1-2 finish for Cookstown BE Racing?
Photo by Rod Neill
It’s a possibility as is James Cowton finishing on the top step of the podium, on the Mcadoo Racing/Gortreagh Printing ER6 Kawasaki which he recently took to back to back super twin successes at the Barry Sheene Festival Powered by Suzuki, at Oliver’s Mount.
Christian Elkin, Adam McLean, Andy Farrell, Veronika Hankocyova all have the talent to cause a surprise or two, as does Colin Stephenson, eighth place finisher in the 2016 Lightweight TT.
Alongside the superbike, supersport, super twin and race of legends encounters, gripping 125/Moto 3, 250/400, Junior Support and Senior Support races are in prospect.
Lots of attention will be on the Joey’s Bar Racing trio of Sam Wilson, Derek McGee and Armoy newcomer Gary Dunlop, as all three push for 125/Moto 3 victory.
Photo by Mark Corlett
Anticipated front runners on 400 machinery include Michal Dokoupil and Darryl Tweed, whilst Sam Johnson is one to watch in the senior support race, as he continues his preparations ahead of the upcoming 2016 Manx Grand Prix.
Your guaranteed one thing at Armoy, close fought action. A lot of the build up the popular meet has been around whether Michael Dunlop would be in action, as he bids for his sixth successive race of legends title.
Confirmed on Tuesday that he would be competing, will the pure road racing superstar, achieve yet another piece of pure road racing history, this coming Saturday?.
It’s an extremely likely possibility, but the riders competing in this years race of legends encounter, are not there to just make up the numbers.
Many of them believe they can be victorious in the blue riband race, at a meeting which has become one of the high points of the Irish road racing calendar.
Words by Stevie Rial