Bruce Anstey keen to reclaim his crown at the Ulster Grand Prix
The scene has been set, the track prepared and the competitors have been arriving in the paddock ahead of MCE Ulster Grand Prix practice, which begins tomorrow morning.
Aiming high is ‘Flying Kiwi’ Bruce Anstey, who has set his sights on the outright lap record at Dundrod.
Riding for Relentless Suzuki, the 48-year-old famously lapped the 7.4-mile circuit in three minutes, 18.870 seconds — a speed of 133.977mph — back in 2010.
He revelled in the title of fastest road racer in the world until a year ago when Ian Hutchinson (Tyco BMW) took 0.166 seconds off Anstey’s time and upped the outright lap record to an astonishing 134.089mph on the final lap of the very last race.
“Given the right conditions, I reckon we’ll be pushing each other and pushing 135mph. I’d really like to have the record back, but we’ll see what happens. I’ll be trying,” said Anstey.
Anstey will be a busy man come race day on Saturday, riding a Padgetts RC213V-S Honda in the Superbike class and the Batley dealers’ Hondas in Supersport and Superstock. He will also return to his roots with an appearance on their RS250 Honda in the Classic TT.
At the Around A Pound Superbike sponsorship launch, Anstey said: “I’ve a good chance on all the bikes really and this is the first time I’ve run a 250 around Dundrod, something I’m really looking forward to. It should be good fun to ride.”
Anstey is the first to admit that 2017 has been challenging, but he wants to put all the previous races behind him.
He said: “I struggled to get going at the North West 200 and it was the same at the TT. The season has been pretty rubbish really, but I don’t feel any pressure here and I want to ride well, give it 100% and see how we get on.”
Anstey has 35 Dundrod podiums to his name, including 12 victories at the MCE Ulster Grand Prix (plus three Dundrod 150 victories), and sits fourth in the all-time winners list.
Clerk of the Course Noel Johnston said: “It’s been a tough year for Bruce, but you’d be crazy to bet against him at Dundrod. He can pull a little bit extra out of the bag when he needs to and I think with the extra incentive of the lap record he’ll be in the mix for sure.”
Roads close tomorrow between 10am and 9.30pm for opening practice and qualifying.
Meanwhile, Lisburn’s Carl Phillips was rewarded for his two top-10 results and a pole position in Superstock 1000 at Thruxton by being named by Eurosport commentator Jamie Whitham as the R&G Rookie of the Meeting.
Another Lisburn competitor, Richard Bird, clinched the Nutt Travel Ulster Mx1 Motocross Championship on Saturday at Tinker Hill with a round to spare.
Bird won all three of his races to take an unassailable lead in the series, which he won previously in 2011 and 2014.
The Masters Superbike Championship at Mondello Park was disrupted when a major incident on Saturday left the circuit with reduced medical cover, leading to the cancellation of part of the race programme.
Sunday’s action was also brought to an early conclusion with changing weather conditions and oil spillages. The one race was won by Charles Stuart.