Belfast Telegraph

Hickman and Harrison are relishing Ulster Grand Prix battle


Ready to roll: Peter Hickman (back left) and Dean Harrison (back right) are joined by Clerk of the Course Noel Johnston (front right) and Superbike race sponsor Eugene McManus (MMB Surfacing) with a new style of machinery at the Dundrod circuit
Ready to roll: Peter Hickman (back left) and Dean Harrison (back right) are joined by Clerk of the Course Noel Johnston (front right) and Superbike race sponsor Eugene McManus (MMB Surfacing) with a new style of machinery at the Dundrod circuit

By Roy Harris

The 2018 MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix is less than a month away and the anticipation is certainly building.

Following a TT that saw Peter Hickman demolish the outright lap record to win a thrilling Senior TT finale ahead of Dean Harrison, the 7.4011 miles of Dundrod tarmac is the next meeting ground for these road racing heavyweights over the week of August 5-11.

Hickman, the UGP Man of the Meeting in 2017 and now the world's fastest rider, secured podium finishes in four classes, three of which were as race winner.

Commenting on his and Harrison's recent form, Hickman said: "Obviously I had my first win at the North West this year and followed this up with a host of firsts at the TT, the highlight of which was achieving a new lap record in the Senior Class.

"The aim is always to win at the slowest pace possible, but Dean was flying and 135mph was the only speed I could do to secure the win!"

Hickman credits Harrison's speed with his experience of competing at the BSBs, commenting: "A few years ago I told Dean that if he wanted to get faster he needed to come to the BSBs. It's a faster style of racing, with top-level riders, bikes and teams, and I think if you can ride at the BSBs you can ride anywhere.

"In hindsight, I wish I'd never mentioned it to him - he's been giving me grief ever since!"

Although disappointed to lose his lap record, Harrison is very much focused on race wins rather than records.

He said: "Records are there to be broken, but with race wins your name is forever etched on that trophy and can't be taken away from you. I'm looking forward to getting out there but I'm not counting my chickens.

"There are at least 10 other riders who all have a chance at that podium and based on how well the teams are all performing it won't be easy out there."

Clerk of the Course Noel Johnston commented: "Both riders have had an incredible year to date and are returning to the Dundrod circuit confident and with a plethora of race wins under their belt.

"They are both at the top of their game, which will no doubt make for some very exciting edge-of-your-seat racing for fans.

"We have two days of international racing this year, with 11 races taking place across the Thursday and Saturday. There are over 100 riders participating and it promises to be the perfect climax to the international road racing season."

UGP Bike Week admission wristbands can be purchased via

Meanwhile, the Armoy Club have announced their Bike Week programme of activities to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of their hugely popular Bayview Hotel Race of Legends meeting.

Bill Kennedy MBE, Chairman of Armoy Motorcycle Road Racing Club and Clerk of the Course, said: "The week leading up to race weekend is a very exciting time for the club, not only because it's a time when we begin to see all the hard work throughout the year come together, but because we have a fantastic line-up of activities for everyone."

The fun starts this Saturday, July 21, with a truck run followed by a bike run and barbecue on Sunday, while a church service at St Patrick's Church on the Sunday is a time for reflection on the past 10 years and of course recent racing tragedies.

There is a photographic exhibition covering the last 10 memorable years, a car boot sale and auto-jumble, a classic car display and the premiere of the Colin James DVD covering a brief history of the Armoy Armada and focusing on the development of the Armoy Road Races over the 10 years. This takes place at Armoy Community Hall at 8.30pm on Wednesday, July 25.

Speaking to race officials, riders and sponsors down the years, the documentary takes an in-depth look at the people behind the scenes who are dedicated to honouring the legacy of the Armoy Armada.

Videographer and creator of the film Colin James said: "The idea for this 10th anniversary came from Bill Kennedy in 2009.

"He asked me to record the story of the races over each year in anticipation of a 10th anniversary film.

"This film has been a long time coming, it is a real passion project for me and I am very proud of the finished product.

"I have always admired the spirit and the success of the Armoy Club so much that I actually became a club member myself!"

Practice at Armoy is on the Friday afternoon and evening of July 27 followed by Saturday race day.

Belfast Telegraph


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