Ulster GP pratice times: Harrison sets pace as big guns ramp up Ulster GP glory bids
Dean Harrison, the fastest man ever around the 7.4mile Dundrod Circuit, set the quickest speed in Superbike/Superstock qualifying yesterday ahead of the MCE Ulster Grand Prix races, which start this afternoon. Scroll down for the top practice times.
Harrison powered around the track in 3m 21.161secs, a speed of 132.451mph, some 3.233secs shy of his own outright lap record of 134.614mph set a year ago.
Eight tenths of a second slower yesterday was Peter Hickman on his Smiths BMW at 131.912mph, with Padgetts Honda pilot Conor Cummins third fastest on 131.745mph.
Hickman is still feeling under the weather following his kidney infection at the BSB meeting at Thruxton over the past weekend that required an overnight stay in hospital, and once again he visited hospital on Tuesday evening for more treatment for his condition.
Paul Jordan, on his debut on the Dafabet Devitt Racing Kawasaki, was a tremendous eighth fastest with a 128.051mph lap.
This qualifying session had to be red flagged when Mullingar rider Derek McGee and Ballymoney man Seamus Elliott crashed at Joey's Windmill, both suffering suspected broken legs.
McGee had been on the crest of a wave in recent weeks, winning some 14 races from 16 starts, and had been a favourite for podium success in the races starting this afternoon, while Elliott was fully recovered from an accident at Faugheen in Co Tipperary two years ago.
Hickman reversed positions with Harrison in the Superstock class with a 131.143mph lap, over two seconds faster than Harrison at 129.600mph.
McGee had been third fastest prior to his accident, with Davey Todd fourth, Cummins fifth, Honda Racing rider Lee Johnston sixth and Jordan seventh.
Harrison doubled up by setting the pace in the Supersport class with a fastest lap of 125.438mph on his Silicone Engineering Kawasaki, four tenths of a second faster than Manxman Cummins on a Padgetts Honda, who in turn was six tenths faster than the Trooper Triumph by Smiths of Hickman.
The unfortunate McGee was fourth fastest on his B&W Kawasaki ahead of the Gortreagh Printing Kawasaki of Adam McLean and the Honda of Cookstown BE runner Todd.
McGee had secured pole position for today's Supertwin race with a lap of 118.580mph on Ryan Farquhar's KMR Kawasaki, three and a half seconds clear of the Roy Hanna Motors Kawasaki of McLean, with Dan Cooper third with a lap of 116.213mph.
An interesting entry in this class is the Kramer 690 Mono ridden by Shaun Anderson, who was seventh fastest with a lap of 112.764mph.
The day had begun with a two-and-a-half-hour delay following a heavy rain shower and to facilitate a bride to use part of the circuit to get to her wedding.
Eventually the action got under way with the Ultra Lightweight and Lightweight machines first out on the drying roads.
Galgorm's Neil Kernohan (250cc Logan Honda) set the fastest lap on his fifth lap of five with a speed of 108.813mph, some four and a half seconds faster than Maghera rider Stephen Morrison (400cc NAB Kawasaki) with Johnston riding the 250cc Padgetts Honda that Bruce Anstey won on last year third, a third of a second slower than Morrison.
In the concurrently run Ultra Lightweight class, McGee, on the Joey's Bar MCC M3 Honda, was almost five seconds clear of Christian Elkin (Wylie M3 Honda), 107.415mph to 105.410mph, with a similar gap back to Paul Robinson, also CB Racing M3 Honda mounted (103.407mph).
Top 125GP was the Honda of German Chris Meyer with a lap just over 100mph, with Austrian Christopher Eder second fastest on his KTM and Gary Dunlop third quickest.
The action continues this morning with roads closing at 10am, followed by the final four qualifying sessions and then by the first four MCE Ulster Grand Prix races ahead of an eagerly-anticipated Saturday of action.
Programme: Race 1 - Supersport - 6 laps; Race 2 - Ultra-Lightweight / Lightweight - 5 laps; Race 3 - Supertwins - 5 laps; Race 4 - Superbike - 6 laps.
Ulster GP Practice times
Qualifying for MCE Ulster Grand Prix
Superbike: 1st D. Harrison avg. speed 132.451mph, 2nd P. Hickman 131.912, 3rd C. Cummins 131.745, 4th D. Todd 129.648, 5th D. Johnson 129.605, 6th L. Johnston 129.486
Superstock: 1st P. Hickman avg. speed 131.143mph, 2nd D. Harrison 129.600, 3rd D. McGee 129.248, 4th D. Todd 128.655, 5th C. Cummins 128.484, 6th L. Johnston 128.454
Supersport: 1st D. Harrison avg. speed 125.438mph, 2nd C. Cummins 125.203, 3rd P Hickman 124.834, 4th D. McGee 124.431, 5th A. McLean 123.454, 6th D. Todd 123.035
Supertwin: 1st D. McGee avg. speed 118.580mph, 2nd A. McLean 116.715, 3rd Dan Cooper 116.213, 4th C. Elkin 115.280, 5th D. Herbertson 113.084, 6th J. Perry 112.792