Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Ulster Grand Prix is THE race: Martin

The late John Colrain who was player-manager of Glentoran and before that played at Glasgow Celtic, used to say that football wasn’t just a game but was the only game.

Now Lincolnshire rider Guy Martin has said something similar with his appraisal of the Ulster Grand Prix as he remarked as we sheltered from the monsoon conditions: "It’s a great pity that the meeting has run into this situation for the Ulster Grand Prix is not only a great road race but the ONLY road race."

Martin was echoing the thoughts of many riders who had been robbed of the chance and thrill of racing round Dundrod’s circuit.

Martin, who won four times here in 2006 and who was also successful once last year, would have been one of the favourites on the day. But unhappily he, as well as the rest of us, were ‘stranded’ sheltering from the rain.

Martin said: "I always look forward to coming here and I regard it as better than the TT. I thought I had a big chance but now everything has gone up in smoke — or shall we say a dampener has been put on the proceedings."

Another rider feeling lost amid the turmoil was Cameron Donald, the Australian who for many would have been the hot favourite.

Donald is a member of the Ulster-based TAS Suzuki team and he said to me yesterday: "I am sitting here in Cookstown where we are based and I’m wearing shorts. What a change in conditions. The sunshine is very strong and quite delightful. If only we could have had this weather on Saturday."

Donald added that he had been looking forward to the Ulster ever since the Isle of Man TT where he had two wins.

"We were preparing our bikes for the Ulster and I was really looking forward to riding and getting my first win here,” he said.

“I had qualified highly after the practice session, as had Bruce Anstey who is my team-mate. We both fancied our chances, given a decent break from the weather but look what happened.

“Now I have no reason really to stay here but I’m going to ride at Cadwell Park next weekend in the British Superbike Championships and after that I will head home to Melbourne, stopping at Hong Kong on the way."

Ryan Farquhar who would have been in his element in wet conditions on Saturday, travelled on to the Manx Grand Prix on the Isle of Man and said: "Normally wet conditions would have pleased me, but this was completely out of the ordinary.

“I think the organisers were quite correct in calling a halt and it’s a pity they weren’t able to get even one race into the scenario."

Saturday’s conditions reminded me of the year of 1987 when the meeting was abandoned following torrential rain and the death of German rider Klaus Kline.

That was a day of doom as far as the Ulster Grand Prix was concerned and if they survived that, they’ll survive everything which happened on Saturday as Noel Johnston, Clerk and prime mover behind the meeting, said: "In my seven years as Clerk of the Course we have had two deaths. That is a bigger priority than being disappointed over bad weather."

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