Ryan Farquhar rolls out welcome Mats
You have to thank road racer supreme Ryan Farquhar for helping to add an international dimension to this weekend's Ulster Grand Prix.
Swedish rider Mats Nilsson had spoken to Farquhar about the top road races to compete in and he had mentioned the Isle of Man TT. But Farquhar immediately put his spoke in for the Ulster and told them it was the fastest road race in the world. This got Nilsson's attention and the Swedish entrepreneur with a larger than life personality will be an unexpected addition to the line-up.
Complete with a Sid Vicious-type of haircut the Scandinavian businessman will be riding for Ulster sponsors Raymond Lilley and Mar-Train who are based in Lisburn and already sponsor Denver Robb.
"I've been at the Manx Grand Prix and the TT but this is something else" he said after his opening practice.
"I would love to get a high placing in Saturday's race and eventually I'm hoping to ride at the Macau Grand Prix.
"My idol was David Jefferies who was sadly killed in the Isle of Man TT practice a few years ago but I also admire Sir Richard Branson who is my idol as I'm involved in all sorts of businesses.”
Mats has a garage full of luxury cars so it looks as though he has been more than reasonably successful. However if he can emulate David Jefferies who was a multi winner at Dundrod you can bet that his main sponsor Ray Lilley will have something to smile about. Mats said he would like to be the first Swedish rider to win a TT race but he feels he is capable of a podium position in the Dundrod 150 Challenge race. That wouldn't be a bad start to his international collection.
It is a long time since an international rider as such has figured highly at the Ulster. Kent Andersson, who was also a Scandinavian, and rode with some success in the world championships during the sixties. If Nilsson has Andersson as his model he'll not be going far astray.