Dean Harrison targets Superbike success at Ulster GP
Dean Harrison has been enjoying a stellar season on the Silicone Engineering Kawasakis and is confident he can close the gap on the Superbike front runners at the MCE Ulster Grand Prix when practice begins this morning.
The 28-year-old scored breakthrough 'big bike' podiums in the Superbike TT and Senior events, the only men ahead of him Ian Hutchinson, Peter Hickman and Michael Dunlop, back in June. He won seven races from seven starts at the Bob Smith Spring Cup at Scarborough in April, then took his first Southern 100 Solo Championship title in July and scored his first ever North West 200 podium during the Thursday Superstock race.
Dundrod, however, hasn't been a happy hunting ground for Dean, with just one podium coming in a memorable 2014 Superstock race when he finished second in a photo-finish with Dan Kneen after an epic scrap.
Speaking as McKinstry Skip Hire confirmed their first year as Superpole sponsors Dean said: "I'm feeling good to be honest. I've had good results at most places this season and I'm really looking forward to getting out on track. I am now at the stage where I've got a good idea of where I'm going around Dundrod, so I'm confident I can definitely push for podiums in all classes.
"The big bikes are where I wanted to progress this year, because I think you need to be able to ride the Superbike well to prove yourself and it's where we've made good progress, so I'll definitely be trying hard to mix it with Hickman and Michael Dunlop, who are probably the favourites."
Harrison continued: "We've made quite a few changes to the ZX10 engine for this week. We've a new MoTec ignition system to try out, so fingers crossed it will be a flying machine. We're doing the last four rounds of BSB later this year, so if nothing else it will be good to get some laps under our belt to see what it is like."
Harrison also confirmed that he will continue with the Silicone Engineering Team in 2018 for the third successive session.
No stranger to Irish road racing, Dean took seven wins on Billy McKinstry-sponsored machines to be crowned 2010 Ulster Junior Support champion, and was runner-up in both the Irish and Ulster Senior Support championships.
He made his UGP debut in 2012 finishing second and third in the Dundrod 150 National and Challenge races (both won by Lee Johnston) and became the first newcomer to lap the 7.4 mile Dundrod Circuit at more than 130mph in the second UGP Superbike race.
All the pre-race hype ends this morning with the competitors taking to the track for the first time and early indications as to who will feature strongly include Bruce Anstey, who is not riding in the Superstock class favouring the 250cc Honda in the Lightweight races for the first time at Dundrod, Michael and William Dunlop, Dan Kneen, Harrison, Lee Johnston or man of the moment Peter Hickman as to who tops the Superbike time sheets.
Roads Close at 10am ahead of seven practice sessions beginning with the Newcomers followed by Ultra Lightweight and Lightweight, Dundrod 150 National and Challenge, Dundrod 150 Superbike and Supertwins all 30 minute sessions before two 40 minute sessions for UGP Supersport, UGP Superbike and Superstock machines.