Michael Dunlop goes for record at Dundrod
Road racing stars Michael Dunlop, Gary Johnson, Dean Harrison and Stephen Thompson helped launch the 2013 Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix, the fastest road race in the world, at the BBC Blackstaff Studio, incidentally the 13th Anniversary of the death of Joey Dunlop.
This will be the 60th Anniversary of the Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod and a quality line up of the world's top road racers was announced by Clerk of the Course Noel Johnston who said: "I'm delighted to confirm that Cameron Donald will travel from Australia to compete, not having ridden since the Isle of Man TT.
"He will be going head to head with the Dunlops, Michael and William, Guy Martin, Bruce Anstey, Gary Johnson, Stephen Thompson and the first newcomer to lap the Dundrod Circuit at over 130mph, Dean Harrison."
It was also announced that reigning Irish Supersport champion and Irish Superbike contender David Haire will make his Dundrod debut this year while Noel Johnston confirmed that past winner Keith Amor plans to emerge from retirement to race at the UGP next year, 2014.
Now in its 91st year the UGP is steeped in history with many ups and downs along the way and but for the year long effort by the Dundrod Club members to raise the £1million required to run the meeting it would be impossible to stage the event.
The club are indebted to a long list of sponsors for their commitment including Aer Lingus, Lidl, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Lisburn City Council, currently the European City of Sport, Maxwell Freight, McKinstry Skip Hire, Topaz, who sponsor the Dundrod 150 on the Thursday of UGP Bike Week, and the Ulster Grand Prix Supporters Club, who are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year.
Michael Dunlop, who rattled off an amazing four TT wins in June is looking forward to the Ulster on August 17, saying, "I love the Ulster; Dundrod is the best circuit in Ireland and if the weather is on our side it would be nice to break Bruce Anstey's lap record of 133.977mph.
"The racing is always close with four or five of us going through the fast bends, rubbing fairings at close to 200mph, where if you blink once the whole thing would be a mess."
A treble winner last year, Dunlop has his sights set on five wins at the Ulster this year, a feat only recorded once in 1996 when Phillip McCallen won both Superbike races, both Junior250cc events plus the Supersport race.
With a new title sponsor in Metzeler Tyres, celebrating 150 years since their formation, it is anticipated the Ulster will be shown to a global audience, a win-win situation for both Metzeler and the UGP meeting.
Asked what it felt like racing side by side at close to 200mph, Gary Johnson said: "It's a bit like Star Wars, an unreal sensation that seems like it is all happening in slow motion when in a group. That's why we enjoy Dundrod."
Dundrod Bike Week runs from 12–17 August, the main events being the Topaz Dundrod 150 racing on Thursday, August 15 and the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix on Saturday, August 17 with further details available online at www.ulstergrandprix.net