Belfast Telegraph

Michael Dunlop such a downbeat Guy

By Roy Harris

Bitterly disappointed Michael Dunlop cast the only cloud over a breathtaking day of hair-raising, close racing at the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix with not only records shattered but also the gloom and doom of the build-up with too much air time given to predictions that wet weather would severely disrupt the 60th Anniversary event at Dundrod.

Those fans who ignored the harbingers of a washout were spectacularly rewarded as a hat-trick and man of the meeting award made screen star Guy Martin the headline act, riding the Tyco TAS Suzukis shod by the event title sponsors' tyres.

Less happy was Michael Dunlop whose single win failed to live up to the high standards he expects of himself. So much so, he wondered out loud: "Maybe it's time for a bigger town for me, time to maybe jack it in for a year and get my head together."

Let's hope this was just a knee jerk reaction to the disappointment of losing out on this occasion as his undoubted young talent is a key element to road racing.

Remember his four TT wins earlier this summer, his North West 200 victory and another win at Dundrod on Saturday – it's not realistic to win every time he goes out on track and Dunlop may be being too hard on himself, as he hates losing.

There were also wins apiece for William Dunlop and Ian Lougher, picking up a victory on his farewell appearance at Dundrod – that's 50 podiums shortly after celebrating his 50th birthday – but the statistic that five of the seven races were won by tenths and hundredths of seconds shows just how close the on-track action was.

The meeting was billed as a Michael Dunlop v Guy Martin battle of the superpowers that Martin convincingly won 3-1, taking victory in both Superbike races and the opening Supersport encounter, the only race run on damp roads, while a clearly disappointed Dunlop could only muster one success in the Superstock race, which he won for the third successive year.

Despite that, Dunlop was really downbeat.

He retired from the first Supersport race with clutch problems, finished fourth in race two, 24 seconds behind brother William and then pulled his TT Legends Honda off the grid prior to the second Superbike race with fuel leaking from the tank, having earlier failed by 0.054sec to reel in Martin's advantage in the UGP Superbike race despite the fastest lap of the day at 133.130mph on the last lap.

After that defeat, Dunlop said: "The backmarkers were a joke out there and that needs to be looked at. The speed Guy and I were coming up on them was dangerous. Guy had the edge in the race and I did everything I could, but it is hard pulling rabbits out of an empty hat and I didn't have the speed at that stage to stay with him."

In sharp contrast, Guy Martin, who was a first lap retirement in both the Superstock and second Supersport race, said after his triple success: "I'm over the moon today. What a way to seal my new deal with the Tyco Suzuki team for 2014. In the main Superbike race I got past Michael on the first lap and thought I should maybe not have passed him so early, but then I thought no, no, no... I'll ride my own race.

"I kept it tight on the last lap always expecting to see his front wheel, but it never came.

"We made a few changes for race two and boy they were peachy, just peachy and what about the Metzeler Tyres... top job, boy. Anything I finished today I won, 100% top drawer."

William Dunlop won a scintillating second Supersport race following a last lap duel with Kiwi Bruce Anstey, the lead changing several times and finally settled when William swept around the outside of Anstey on the final bend to snatch victory by half a machine length.

William commented: "I needed that victory. We were side by side all the way from the hairpin on that last lap and pretty close at times, but I was determined to win."

Anstey kept up his UGP record of having finished on the podium every year since his debut in 2002, in fact on Saturday he was on the podium four times.

An equally close finish in the opening Supersport race, the only race to run on damp roads, saw Anstey finish second after another last lap encounter this time with Martin, the HM Plant Padgetts Honda man losing out by a machine length.

Ian Lougher's final UGP was a winning one, as he held off the determined challenge of Christian Elkin to snatch victory in the Ultra Lightweight race by a third of a second.

The final race was Lougher's farewell and retiring to the pits in the second Superbike, the Dromara-based Welshman received a huge ovation from the grandstand, pit lane and paddock as he toured in.

Ivan Lintin scored his first UGP win in the Lightweight race by a wafer thin margin from Jamie Hamilton with Lee Johnston taking his second podium of the day in third.

A word of praise must go to Clerk of the Course Noel Johnston and the organising Dundrod Club for holding their ground and delivering a slickly run programme in sunshine following the setback of the abandonment of the Dundrod 150 on Thursday.

Road racing was the real winner on Saturday.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph