2011 Road RacingThe Duke Road Race Rankings enters a new era in 2011 – not only will the 10th winner of the annual series be crowned, there will also be a brand new trophy awarded.
The 2011 series was officially launched in the Isle of Man on Friday at the media night organized by the Southern 100 Club, organizers of racing at the Billown Circuit.It was confirmed that this year there will 26 events on the schedule, which runs from April to November. As always, the Duke Road Race Rankings calendar includes a mix of the best- known international events – including the Isle of Man TT, Macau Grand Prix, North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix – as well as leading national events in Ireland and Northern Ireland and races at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough.The Rankings is the only series which measures performance across the entire road racing season, effectively creating a "championship" for those dedicated to competing "between the hedges."The series was created by Duke Marketing and first run in 2002, when road racing veteran Ian Lougher took the title – his first of three, so far. The aim was to give recognition to racers who are committed to the roads. While the ‘big’ International meetings are included, anyone aiming to top the Duke Road Race Rankings must also compete at events like Cookstown, the Skerries and Killalane.Attending as many meetings as possible is demanding, both physically and financially, and the Duke Road Race Rankings was designed to pay tribute to those who show this high level of dedication and enthusiasm for the sport.Over the years, Lougher has claimed the win three times, Manxman Conor Cummins once in 2007, and Dungannon’s Ryan Farquhar an amazing five times. Last year he topped the rankings for the third year in a row and, honoring a promise made many years ago, he was handed the prestigious Geoff Duke Trophy to keep.Speaking at the launch, Peter Duke, Managing Director of Duke Marketing, confirmed a new trophy would be ready to hand over to whoever tops the 2011 rankings – the 10th running of the series.Peter Duke says: "It is fitting that 2011 marks the start of a new era for the Duke Road Race Rankings as the sport we celebrate – real road racing – has enjoyed a modern renaissance during the decade the Rankings have been running."Visit almost any of the meetings in our 2011 schedule and you will find packed grandstands, full grids and paddocks heaving with top flight teams and leading racers; sure signs of confidence in the future of the sport."It comes as no surprise to me that there is an ever-expanding fan base – even in the USA – and continuing investment in real road racing. Others are now discovering what fans have always known; real road racing produces a jaw- dropping spectacle, incredible racing, pure drama and real passion. And now with modern TV technology, a whole new audience is growing worldwide."It is a sport about commitment and devotion. Just ask the hundreds of riders and teams who journey from Scarborough in April to Macau in November, visiting more than 20 other meetings along the way, to pursue their dream – investing time, money and hard work for often little reward other than the satisfaction of a good result or improved lap time."It was for these people we launched the Duke Road Race Rankings in 2002, to recognize their awesome dedication to racing on the roads, to thank them for the amazing racing we can enjoy throughout the year, year after year."So, as we prepare for the flag to drop at Oliver’s Mount on April 17, we can look forward to another season of great racing. Good luck to all and may the best rider win!"The 2011 Duke Road Race Rankings gets underway on April 17 with the Spring Cup Road Races at Oliver’s Mount.Once again, all the leading road racing names will be in competition for the title – including Farquhar, who has confirmed another season with his own KMR Racing team and the latest Kawasaki machinery.Farquhar, who was handed the Geoff Duke Trophy at the star-studded Adelaide Racer Awards in Belfast last month, said winning the Duke Road Race Rankings is an important accolade, and a fitting reward for the massive commitment it takes to attend as many road racing rounds as possible.Ryan Farquhar says: "I am totally over the moon to be keeping the Geoff Duke Trophy. It is something I have always had in the back of my mind since I had a discussion with Peter and Geoff at the Belfast Bike Show many years ago."Geoff said anyone who won it three times in a row would keep it. That is something I really
wanted to do. It is an amazing trophy, as anyone who’s seen it knows, anyone would be proud to receive it."It takes an amazing amount of effort to win the Duke Road Race Rankings, I don’t think people realize the commitment it takes. There’s a huge amount of personal effort which goes into going to all the National and International road races and competing in three or four classes – so, it means a huge amount to me to win, I’m really proud to have got my name on the trophy the number of times I have.""The Geoff Duke Trophy is at the top of the list when it comes to road racing awards, being presented with it really is something special."