Belfast Telegraph

Spill alert halts practice

By Roy Harris

Practice at yesterday evening's Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix had to be abandoned with one session remaining due to a massive oil spillage between Deers Leap and Cochranstown.

With the light fading fast the Clerk of the Course, Noel Johnston, had no option but to call a halt to proceedings.

Earlier, Guy Martin put the Tyco Suzuki in pole position for today's Topaz Dundrod 150 Superbike race following a tricky qualifying practice at Dundrod yesterday when he lapped at 115.083mph, a long way off the outright lap record of over 133mph thanks to light rain at the start of the session eventually red flagged because of heavy rain at Wheelers Corner, the highest point of the circuit.

Martin had a close call at the top of Deers Leap during the session when he clipped slower rider Dan Cooper, ripping one side of the fairing off the Tyco Suzuki and bending a disc and gear lever plus taking the exhaust off Cooper's Centurion Honda, both lucky to stay on board.

Out on a slick tyre, Martin was 2.3secs faster than the Milwaukee Yamaha of William Dunlop with the circuit lap record holder, Bruce Anstey, a further 2.3secs back in third, both on slicks.

Michael Dunlop, again with a dry tyre fitted, completed the front row with a lap of 111.988mph on the TT Legends Honda, five seconds clear of fifth fastest rider Ian Lougher, riding in what will be his final Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix come Saturday.

One of the pre-race favourites for a podium finish, Dean Harrison from Bradford, only managed four very slow laps due to machine problems with his R C Express Kawasaki and is set to start from the second group of riders in this afternoon's race. The Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix supersport was a thrilling session; top spot changing hands constantly with Anstey the early pace setter before the circuit's fastest newcomer from last year, Dean Harrison,took over at the head of affairs.

Speeds increased lap by lap before on his seventh and final circuit William Dunlop took provisional pole with a lap of 115.161mph five one hundredths ahead of brother Michael at 115.135mph, the pair over a second-and-a-half clear of Martin, who was dicing with William Dunlop on the road.

Harrison eventually dropped to fourth ahead of Australian Cameron Donald as Anstey completed the top six.

William Dunlop was fastest through the speed trap at 172mph, the only supersport rider to top the 170mph mark.

William said: "The wee bike was flying and I know it's the quickest machine in the class."

Timed practice had got underway with the Dundrod National and Challenge 30-minute dry session in which Alan Bonner from Stanmullen, Co Meath, took his 1000cc Honda around the 7.4mile circuit at 125.614mph, almost 11 seconds faster than English visitor Ivan Lintin on a 600cc Kawasaki with local man Gareth Keys (1000cc BMW) a further six tenths back in third.

In the mixed session for ultra lightweight and lightweight machines, Jamie Hamilton riding the KMR Kawasaki powered by Vauxhall Dealers NI was three-and-a-half seconds ahead of Ivan Lintin with Lee Johnston third and Gary Johnson fourth.

Former British 125cc champion Christian Elkin was the fastest of the ultra lightweight machines and the only one over 100mph with Ian Lougher some eleven seconds back in second ahead of William Cowden and Sam Wilson.

This session was red flagged after two riders, Kevin Strowger and Dave Walsh, collided on the high-speed run between Jordans Cross and Wheelers.

Strowger returned to the paddock unhurt while Walsh was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Practice continues this morning with roads closing from 10.30am. The Topaz Dundrod 150 programme of races is scheduled to commence at 2.30pm, with roads re-opening at 8.30pm.

Belfast Telegraph

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