Ulster Grand Prix: Dunlop’s pace just not enough
Supersport 600cc racing usually produces high quality racing and Saturday was no exception with Ian Hutchinson and Keith Amor taking a win each, Michael Dunlop setting a new lap record for the class, and four riders now over the 128mph mark.
In the first race Amor, Hutchinson and William Dunlop made the running on the first lap with Michael a second off the leading trio, closely followed by Guy Martin and Gary Johnson.
On the second lap William was forced to retire from the action with an oil leak, but brother Michael was on the move and snapping at the leaders’ heels with a record second lap at 127.561mph to beat William’s speed from 2009.
On lap four Michael overtook Amor at Deers Leap and then swept past Hutchinson at the Windmill into the lead, which he held momentarily, as Amor was back in front at the end of the lap. Hutchy led on lap five and then on the sixth and final circuit Amor went through into the lead at the extremely fast Lougher’s sweep and appeared in control of the race.
But Hutchinson got the run on him through Flow Bog and nipped inside the Scotsman at Quarry Bend to win by 0.176 seconds with Dunlop setting a new lap record of 128.599mph, but having to settle for third, less than half a second behind the winner.
Dunlop said of his new lap record: “I may have set the record lap, but it wasn’t good enough to win the race.”
Armor said: “I thought I had done enough to nick it, but Ian is a determined rider and I just left enough of a gap and he took full advantage.”
Race two was a two-part thriller, the first part with Hutchy in front of Amor and William Dunlop (below) was stopped when a rider crashed uninjured entering the pit lane his machine ending up in the middle of the track.
The restart was a three-lap dash with the result to be taken on aggregate time over the two races, with Amor, Hutchy and the two Dunlops fighting out a hair-raising encounter.
On time Hutchy led by 0.224 seconds from Amor, William with Michael, but on track it was sensational as Amor and Hutchinson went through Jordans Cross side-by-side and then it was four abreast down the ‘Flying Kilo’ at over 170mph.
On aggregate time Amor, with the fastest lap of the race on his last lap, won his first international road race at Dundrod by two-tenths of a second from Hutchy, suffering his first defeat of the day, William and Michael Dunlop. The first three lapped at over 128mph, but could not break Michael’s race one record.
A thrilled Scotsman said, “That was on the limit stuff. I was sliding the thing all over the place in what was a proper Supersport race.”