Michael Dunlop took the Man of the Meeting award at Saturday’s McKinstry Skip Hire Ulster Grand Prix, the 23-year old Ballymoney rider racing to an electrifying hat-trick of wins on board his Street Sweep Kawasaki and Yamaha machines.
Dunlop tasted victory in both Supersport races and the Superstock event — his first ever wins around the 7.4mile Dundrod circuit, repeating the success there of his late father Robert.
In fact it was an incredible day for both Michael and his elder brother William, riding for Wilson Craig Honda; Michael taking those three wins and two fastest laps while William had three podiums and a fastest lap, with a win just eluding him.
In fact in the Supersport races, it was a Dunlop 1-2 in both, separated by less than a second each time.
A jubilant Michael said of his treble: “I came to Dundrod with no wins and now I leave with three. That’s an international set now, wins at the North West 200, Isle of Man TT and the Ulster.. That’s what I came here to do.
“William and I were evenly matched in the Supersport races and although my Yamaha was slower than the Hondas, I was able to get through the corners quicker and nip through the tiny gap left by him at the hairpin. It’s been a great day for the Dunlops.”
Separated by fractions of seconds, the brothers battled corner to corner in the opening Supersport race, the large crowd enthralled as they slugged it out for the win.
The defining moment arived at the hairpin on the final lap, Michael taking advantage of William’s slight mistake to speed to the chequered flag, three-tenths ahead with Bruce Anstey third and Cameron Donald fourth.
Race two was a carbon copy with the Dunlops battling at the front after fending off the initial challenge of Cameron Donald.
Again the outcome was decided at the hairpin as slower riders thwarted a last corner attack by William, allowing Michael a clear run to the chequered flag eight-tenths in front.
Michael won the opening Superstock race after a tight battle with Guy Martin, settled only on the sixth and final lap when Dunlop went ahead at the end of the Flying Kilo to open up a race winning gap and punch the air with delight at his first UGP victory.
In the concurrently run 250GP and Supertwin race, Ian Lougher was untouchable in the two-stroke class over seven seconds clear of Denver Robb at the chequered flag, Robb inheriting second from Seamus Elliott who slid off in the Quarries section on the last lap.
Meanwhile Ryan Farquhar, once he had shaken off the challenge of Wayne Hamilton, who crashed at the Quarry Bend on lap three avoiding slower riders, streaked to his third successive UGP Supertwins race victory over a minute ahead of team-mate
Adrian Archibald and John Burrows. It was a good day for the KMR Kawasaki team, led by Farquhar, as road race debutant Jamie Hamilton took fourth.
Keith Amor overcame a difficult start to the day to record two strong podium finishes, taking second and third in the two Superbike races on his Honda TT Legends machine.
The Scot crashed out of the Supersport race, thankfully without injury, explaining: “A sudden rain shower caught me out. I got to Leathemstown and there were no flags out to warn me. Both wheels just went from under me and I ended up going straight over the bars.
“After that, the day could only get better and that's exactly what happened. The big bike was absolutely flying.”