Michael Dunlop sets new record but Bruce Anstey calls a halt
Michael Dunlop recorded the fastest ever time at Dundrod last night, getting off to a winning start when he triumphed in the 150 Superbike race, albeit only a two-lap affair due to fading light.
The scheduled five laps saw Conor Cummins lead at the end of lap one closely followed by Ian Hutchinson, Dunlop, Bruce Anstey and Dean Harrison.
On lap two Dunlop travelled through the speed trap at 197.5mph, the fastest speed ever recorded at Dundrod, and took the lead by Tullyrusk, flashing through to start his third lap with the fastest lap of the MCE Ulster Grand Prix meeting to date at 131.88mph to lead Anstey by 0.667sec with Cummins and Hutchinson right in the Kiwi's slipstream.
The red flags were displayed when Stephen McKnight crashed at Tornagrough and, although he was unhurt, debris and his machine was scattered across the road, resulting in the stoppage.
With 13 riders having completed two laps, Dunlop was declared the winner by officials.
A three lap re-start was announced, but in gathering gloom riders voiced their opinion it was getting too dark to race with Anstey saying: "I wasn't going to start the re-run and I told Noel (Johnston, Clerk of the Course) that it was too dodgy to race in the fading light with speeds reaching 190mph plus.
"In my opinion it was just becoming too dangerous to continue. At speeds of 197mph it would not be worth it."
That prompted the decision to cancel the race with just the two laps completed.
It was disappointing for fans, who had endured a long day, not to see the main race concluded.
The opening race of the Dundrod 150 programme was the National race over five laps won by Wexford's Graham Kennedy, a circuit newcomer, riding a 600cc Yamaha.
He was fourth at the end of lap one and second going onto the fifth and final lap, two and a half seconds behind Glenn Walker (600cc Kawasaki) before bridging the gap and winning by 3.678secs. Kennedy also set the fastest lap of the race at 115.283mph on lap three.
A delighted Kennedy said: "I can't explain what it means to win around such a famous circuit as Dundrod. I knew I was gaining on the leader and I overtook him on the back section and just kept my head down to the chequered flag."
Mullingar rider James Kelly had been leading the race on lap three, but overshot the hairpin on the penultimate lap before retiring from the action.
A cracking concurrently run Ultra Lightweight and Lightweight race saw a three-way battle for the lead in the Lightweight with the 250cc Hondas of Davy Morgan and Neil Kernohan battle throughout the five laps just feet apart.
Going onto the last lap, Paul Robinson led from Morgan and Kernohan, but when the chequered flag was unfurled it was Kernohan who triumphed by seven one hundredths of a second from Morgan, with Robinson dropping to third, 3.788secs back.
Such was the pace that fourth place finisher Ollie Linsdell was 54 seconds behind the trio.
Christian Elkin ran away with the Ultra Lightweight race.
Dundrod 150 National (5 Laps): 1st G. Kennedy avg speed 113.009, 2nd Glenn Walker 112.745, 3rd S. Connolly 112.201, 4th G. Lupton 112.170, 5th D. Campbell 111.861, 6th D. Hegarty 111.837.
Fastest Lap: Kennedy 3m 51.118secs - 115.283mph
Lightweight (5 Laps): 11st N. Kernohan avg speed 111.031mph, 2nd D Morgan 111.025, 3rd P. Robinson 110.674, 4th P. Owen 110.640, 5th O. Linsdell 105.843, 6th S. Morrison 102.613
Fastest Lap: Morgan 3m 54.561secs - 113.591mph
Ultra Lightweight (5 Laps): 1st C. Elkin avg speed 104.563mph, 2nd S. Wilson 102.765, 3rd D. McGee 102.749, G. Dunlop 100.429, 5th m. Kennedy 97.910, 6th C. Laidlaw 96.479
Fastest Lap: Elkin 4m 13.159secs - 105.246mph
Dundrod Challenge (4 Laps): 1st D. Jackson avg speed 117.771mph, 2nd D. Herbertson 117.771, 3rd M. Booth 116.263, 4th S. West 116.179, 5th R. Wilson 115.889, 6th A. McLean 115.350
Fastest Lap: West 3m 43.137secs - 119.406mph
Dundrod 150: 1st M. Dunlop avg speed 128.509mph, 2nd B Anstey 128.297, 3rd C. Cummins 128.244, 4th I. Hutchinson 128.145, 5th D. Harrison 127.521, 6th D. Kneen 127.300
F. Lap - Dunlop 3m 22.030secs - 131.881mph