Dunlop and Martin turn on style in grand show
Guy Martin may have taken Saturday’s blue riband Ulster Grand Prix Superbike race victory and the Man of the Meeting Award for his day’s efforts — ending a 12 month long drought on the international road racing scene for the Tyco Suzuki rider — but it was Michael Dunlop who stole the headlines.
Dunlop celebrated a sensational double, also claiming the fastest lap of the day at a sun baked Dundrod.
His response to his Superstock and Superbike race two victory was simple: “That’s just how we operate.”
Martin’s take on his successful day was slightly more comprehensive, visibly delighted to be back on the top step at Dundrod.
“To come here and win the big race is always the top job,” Martin explained in his demonstrative style.
“In that last Superbike race I did all I could and tried to make a break for it; then when Michael came past I was going to hang back and make my move at the Hairpin on the last lap.
“He made a mistake at Jordan’s Cross and I had to take the opportunity.
“I kept it tight everywhere and braked as late as I could into the Hairpin but he came down the inside and ran us both wide, but fair play to him I’d have done the same myself.”
Making sure to get the last word he added with a sly grin: “The Ulster Grand Prix race is the only one that matters here today. I won that, so I don’t mind losing the ‘B’ race.”
Dunlop arrived at the 90th Anniversary event suffering from two slipped disks in his back.
An injury that would have left many a mere mortal at home in bed, but Dunlop doesn’t do second best, as we’ve all come to expect this past few years, and his performance at Dundrod was calculated and cutting edge.
His opening race victory in the Lisburn City Council Superstock race was all the more impressive, as at the end of the opening lap, he found himself two seconds down on surprise leader Ian Lougher.
Dunlop worked his way through the pack, before hitting the front on his Ard Na Mara/McAdoo Racing Kawasaki on lap four, and from there he was unstoppable, taking the victory by four seconds over Lougher, who held on for second place.
Guy Martin just took third place ahead of his Tyco Suzuki team-mate Conor Cummins, with Dunlop also claiming the fastest lap with a 131.534mph effort on the penultimate lap of six.
The notion of a media hyped five-timer was quickly quashed when his brother William won the Aer Lingus Supersport race by the slenderest of margins on his Wilson Craig Honda from Bruce Anstey, also Honda mounted for Padgetts of Batley.
The race was red flagged — the first of many that the Club were forced to deal with on the day — with the result eventually taken from the end of lap three.
Newcomer Lee Johnston put in a storming ride to finish third on his Millsport Racing Honda after a race-long battle with Conor Cummins.
Anstey then went on to take his sixth UGP victory in the second Supersport outing after a thrilling six-lap battle with William Dunlop. The 43-year-old Kiwi made a brave fifth gear pass into the Quarry section of the circuit on the final lap, with Conor Cummins also impressive in third.
All three podium finishers lapped at over 127mph with Anstey just edging the fastest lap.
Davy Morgan won the Wash n Dash 250cc that saw only eight finishers, with Ryan Farquhar completing his clean sweep of Supertwins victories at all three internationals this season by taking the Maxwell Freight sponsored four lapper at Dundrod.
His young team-mate Jamie Hamilton was second with Russ Mountford third.
Michael Dunlop then wrapped up a fabulous day’s action with the aforementioned second Superbike race victory over Man of the Meeting Martin. Cummins fought back to take third place away from Gary Johnson right at the end — somewhat of a moral victory for the Manxman after Johnson had accidently taken him out at the North West in May, forcing Cummins to miss this year’s TT.
Dunlop’s fastest lap at 133.435mph was also the fastest lap recorded at this year’s Ulster Grand Prix Bike week.
Huge credit must go to the promoting Dundrod & District Motor Cycle Club for having to deal with 17 incidents during the week-long event and the sad death of 24-year-old competitor Lee Vernon in Thursday’s Superbike encounter.