Windsor-based Kiwi Bruce Anstey will awaken from a nine-week slumber to take in this week’s McKinstry Skip Hire Ulster Grand Prix — kicking off today with the Dundrod 150 Races — and despite all the hype surrounding Michael Dunlop and a potential five-timer on Saturday — the formbook can be thrown out the window.
Anstey is one of the sport’s enigmatic characters.
His racing preparation model will not be found in any scientific handbook, and despite adding a bit of motocross to his repertoire this past 12 months, the former BMX champion literally just rolls up and races.
A lot has been said and written on his move to Padgett’s Honda at the end of the 2010 season, after what seemed like a lifetime under the auspices of Hector and Philip Neill at TAS Racing.
Everything comes to an end and despite tangible success on various branded Suzuki machinery with the Moneymore-based outfit, it would be fair to say that Bruce is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance in his career since joining Clive Padgett’s rainbow liveried set-up.
He comes to the Ulster Grand Prix not having raced a motorcycle since June 6 on the Isle of Man, but after his showing at Dundrod last season on Padgett’s machinery, taking a controversial Ulster Grand Prix Superbike victory from the second group on corrected time, the ever-smiling Kiwi would be happy to do it all again — in the very same format — on Saturday, should the opportunity present itself.
“I knew I had a good chance of the win last year, despite the problems in qualifying, but starting on the front of the second group was definitely an advantage for me,” said Anstey, who looking back on his victory added: “It gave me a clear run and I didn’t have to dice with anyone.
“I did come across some slower riders from the back of the first group towards the end, which held me up a bit, but we got the win,” he smiled.
Mass start racing is designed to take its winner from ‘first past the post’ or in the case of motorcycle racing, first to dip under the chequered flag.
But failing to qualifying in the ‘elite’ front group has turned out to be advantageous in recent times, as both Anstey and Michael Rutter (a winner at this year’s NW200 in similar circumstances) have shown, taking wins on corrected time.
It’s a loophole in the current rules that many feel needs addressed, arguably robbing the fans, who wait patiently in the
Joey Dunlop Grandstand on the start-finish line at Dundrod, for the first man into view coming out of Quarry Bends as their winner.
Anstey, refuting the claim, said: “It is a great position to start from and I’d be happy to do it again, but no-one goes out to qualify in the second group.
“The best case scenario is qualify quickest in pole position; start from the front row and try to get away from the pack.”
Anstey was fourth fastest in yesterday’s delayed opening Superbike session with a lap of 128.806mph, but it was Manxman Conor Cummins on the Tyco
Suzuki who posted the fastest lap in near perfect conditions at Dundrod, lapping at 129.427mph.
Michael Dunlop [Hints/|McAdoo Honda] was second quickest at 129.001mph with Guy Martin [Tyco Suzuki] third on 128.945mph.
William Dunlop made up the top five with a lap of 128.738mph on his Wilson Craig Honda. Just one second covered the top five with late entrant Gary Johnson sixth [128.065mph] on the second of the Padgett’s Hondas. Dean Harrison was the top newcomer in the session lapping at over 125mph.
Czech Republic rider Michal Dokoupil crashed on the opening lap of the session, forcing a red flag.
He was taken to hospital with non life-threatening injuries, as were Republic of Ireland riders Ronan Pentony and Andy Farrell who crashed in separate incidents earlier in the day.
Ryan Farquhar, who retired his smoking ZX10R Kawasaki in the Superbike session, was fastest in the Supertwins class with Olie Linsdell quickest in 125cc.
Supersport times: William Dunlop 125.675mph, Bruce Anstey 124.705mph, Michael Dunlop 124.150mph, Guy Martin 123.783mph, Gary Johnson 123.654mph, Dan Kneen 123.231mph, Conor Cummins 122.945mph.