Of all the world renowned road racing stars in action at the McKinstry Skip Hire Ulster Grand Prix this week, one in particular will have a huge target on his back, namely Yorkshire rider Ian Hutchinson.
At his last international road race, the Isle of Man TT, Hutchinson (inset) became the first man in history to win all five solo races in one week.
The ‘Bingley Bullet’, as he has been nicknamed, comes to Dundrod on the back of his most successful season to date, having also won a Supersport 600cc race and finished second in the Superstock race at the North West 200 on top of recording that unique achievement at the TT.
Last year at Dundrod, ‘Hutchy’ was involved in what was to become the fastest race in the world when Manxman Conor Cummins set an astounding lap record of 133.284mph on his way to winning the Dundrod 150 Superbike race with Hutchinson in second place 0.6 seconds behind the McAdoo Kawasaki.
Ironically it was with McAdoo Kawasaki that Hutchinson won his first international road race at the North West 200 in 2006, also riding to three podium places at the Ulster before switching to HM Plant Honda for 2007 and recording four podium finishes at the TT including his first win in the Supersport junior race.
Hot shot Hutchinson also won his first Ulster Grand Prix race in 2007 when he triumphed in the rain-shortened three-lap Belfast Telegraph-sponsored Superbike race.
The 2008 Ulster was a wash-out, but Hutchy was back last year in Padgetts Honda colours to pip Ryan Farquhar by 0.3secs to win the two-part Superstock race, lose out to the Ulsterman by a mere one thousandth of a second in the first Supersport race and then again finish second to Cummins in the feature Superbike race just 0.136secs back but with the second fastest ever lap around Dundrod at 133.232mph.
Cementing a good 2009 Ulster, Hutchy also finished third in a blanket finish behind Guy Martin and Gary Johnson in the second Superbike race and sixth in the second Supersport race, the fastest ever in this particular class around Dundrod.
The 31-year old said: “Dundrod is totally different to the TT, really it is now more like a short circuit as it is so smooth and so fast.
“Of course Dundrod is a mass start, not like the TT where it is basically a time trial. I’m used to mass starts at British Championships week in week out, so that’s not a problem.
“I’m really looking forward to getting out on track, as I like the Dundrod Circuit with its fast flowing corners. What happened to me at the TT is history and this is a new race meeting. Yes, the TT was something special this year, but it is now time to concentrate on the Ulster.
“I’ve been involved in a few tight finishes around Dundrod losing some by fractions of seconds and I would like to add a few more wins to the two I have at present.”