Dundrod double as Kiwi bike ace Bruce Anstey sparkles in the rain
Kiwi Bruce Anstey raced to a memorable double at the Ulster Grand Prix after overcoming big name rivals and difficult weather conditions. Anstey took his Ulster win tally to 10 after claiming Superbike and Supersport wins.
Red flag stoppages eventually led to the cancellation of the final Supersport and Superbike races but the action that went ahead was breathtaking.
Anstey also stormed to a third place finish in a Superstock event that produced one of the closest finishes in UGP history.
Unfortunately his day ended in a four-rider crash at Deers Leap on the opening lap of the second Supersport race, luckily walking away with just a sore foot.
It wasn’t such a good day for the Dunlops with no podium finishes for William or Michael, mainly down to bad luck and mechanical issues.
The UGP also highlighted new names coming through to challenge the established stars with Peter Hickman, Daley Mathison, James Cowton, Russ Mountford, Ivan Lintin and Steve Mercer amongst those turning in five-star performances.
The seven-lap McKinstry Skip Hire Superbike race saw riders in a quandary over tyres as the 7.4mile Dundrod Circuit was largely dry, but with a few damp patches mainly on the back section.
There was drama at the start as front row rider William Dunlop was a non-starter, his Tyco Suzuki wheeled back to the paddock after the warm-up lap, William saying: “I have been suffering a bit of a virus and just wasn’t feeling strong enough.”
The majority went with intermediate fronts and slick rears and when the lights went out Guy Martin led Lee Johnston, Anstey, Michael Dunlop, Ian Hutchinson, Hickman, Mercer, Mathison and Mountford in a freight train of riders halfway around the opening lap at Joey’s Windmill.
Soon Martin, Johnston and Anstey pulled a gap of three seconds on the BMW of Dunlop, who had not made the best of starts and lost valuable seconds to the leading trio.
A blanket would have covered the top three as they circulated at high speed with Anstey into second on lap three and Dunlop closing right up on the trio, the quartet all over the 130mph mark with sensational newcomer Hickman in fifth, half a minute down on Dunlop.
The pace got quicker at the front and it was Martin and Anstey opening up a gap on the rest culminating on a last lap shoot-out. The Tyco Suzuki of Martin seemed to have the edge, but he encountered a slower rider at Leathemstown on the last lap, allowing the Valvoline Honda to get back onto his rear wheel and a heart-stopping final three-quarters of a lap in far from ideal conditions that saw Anstey make his move up the inside at Tornagrough and hold off the challenge of Martin through the hairpin and final bends to take his 10th UGP victory by a quarter of a second with the fastest lap of the race at 131.891mph.
Four and a half seconds back in third was Johnston while Dunlop dropped off the pace to finish fourth, two and a half seconds behind the ECC/Pirtek Honda.
Hickman held on to fifth with the impressive Mathison sixth.
A delighted 44-year old Anstey said: “I really enjoyed that. Guy took me all the way to the chequered flag.
“I knew I was faster down through the final series of bends, so made my move into Tornagrough, rode a defensive line into the hairpin and then just kept my head down to the chequered flag.”
Martin said: “Great race, great race. I had a bit of a slender gap going onto the last lap and thought I could hold on, but I had to slow going through Leathemstown encountering a back-marker in a bad place, losing drive up the hill allowing Bruce to get back onto my back wheel.
“I was expecting the challenge, maybe not where it happened, but fair play to the old boy, he was riding well and there was not much between our two bikes.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital