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Page last updated at 21:19 GMT, Sunday, 31 May 2009 22:19 UK

Team talk

By Richard Petrie

Bruce Anstey and Cameron Donald
Bruce Anstey and Cameron Donald won TTs for TAS Suzuki in 2008

While Ulster riders may not have figured regularly at the top of the Isle of Man TT podium in recent years, locally owned teams have made their mark at the famous road races.

In the 1980s and 90s racers such as Joey Dunlop, Robert Dunlop, Phillip McCallen and Brian Reid dominated the island event while others like Con Law and Johnny Rea also enjoyed victories.

Adrian Archibald chipped in with three wins in the early part of this decade and Ryan Farquhar stood on the top step in 2004.

Northern Ireland riders have endured a comparatively barren spell since then but the Ulster teams, most notably the TAS Suzuki squad, have provided the Irish fans with something to cheer.

More recently known as Relentless Suzuki by TAS Racing, the Moneymore-based outfit run by father and son, Hector and Philip Neill, first raced at the TT in 2000 with Welshman Ian Lougher on a Yamaha.

Lougher secured a victory two years later, riding a 600cc Suzuki to success in the Production 600 TT, while larger-than-life Yorkshireman David Jefferies won the Formula One and Senior TTs for the local team.

Following the tragic death of Jefferies in 2003, Ballymoney man Archibald dedicated his two TT wins to the memory of his team-mate.

The one race I really want to win again is the Senior, that is the special one for me

Hector Neill

Archibald added a further win in the 2004 Senior event and then Bruce Anstey took up the winning mantle, dominating the Superstock class for several years, and also winning the Supersports.

In 2008, Australian Cameron Donald shocked many observers by taking a race double in the famous black livery in the Superbike and Superstock classes in only his third year of competing on the island.

Anstey came home first in the opening Supersport race before being excluded for a technical infringement but the Kiwi made amends in race two, comfortably seeing off the opposition with a commanding ride.

Team owner Hector Neill has enjoyed his team's success but wants one more trophy in the cabinet before calling it a day.

"The one race I really want to win again is the Senior. I enjoy winning any of the races but that is the special one for me.

"I rate it as the blue riband of the meeting and the trophy is fantastic, with the names of so many top riders on it. It's the big one as far as I'm concerned," he said.

While TAS have led the way in terms of race wins, other Ulster teams have also figured prominently.

TAS team
The TAS team celebrate success at the TT

The IFS Yamaha team won both the main Superbike races in 2004 under the guidance of Graeme Hanna, with top TT star John McGuinness the successful pilot.

McAdoo Racing teamed up with Farquhar for his maiden TT win in the Supersport class in the same year while JD's Yamaha made it onto the podium with Donegal man Raymond Porter a year later.

Others to feature prominently in the paddock in recent years include the Uel Duncan Honda Racing team, who this year field Englishman Gary Johnson for the second time in succession.

Chris Dowd's CD Racing outfit has backed Manx riders Richard Quayle and Nigel Beattie, and now have William Dunlop in their colours.

Manxman Conor Cummins performed well in the ranks of the Ballymoney-based JMF Millsport Yamaha outfit and Round Tower Racing were long-time backers of Martin Finnegan, who tragically lost his life at the Tandragee 100 in 2008.

Last year, Wilson Craig Honda got their machine on the rostrum at the first time of asking, with Scot Keith Amor celebrating a third place in the first Supersport race.

Few would bet against Irish eyes smiling again when the prizes are handed out at this year's event.

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see also
Quartet spearhead NI TT challenge
30 May 09 |  Motorsport
Donald wins Isle of Man TT opener
31 May 08 |  MotoGP

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