Hickman in class of his own as he throws down gauntlet in Ulster GP practice
Peter Hickman was in unbeatable form during yesterday's final qualifying for tomorrow's fonaCAB Ulster Grand Prix Superbike races, unofficially breaking the outright lap record with his pole position effort of 134.969mph.
That was half a second inside Dean Harrison's 2017 record of 134.614mph.
The flying Hickman, who later beat his own mark in the Superbike race with an effort 136.415mph, is also on pole position for the Superstock and Supersport races.
The Smiths BMW rider was in superb form around the 7.4-mile Dundrod Circuit, putting in eight laps on the Superbike - five of which were over 134mph - to give the opposition something to think about.
Harrison was 2.49 seconds slower than Hickman, taking his Silicone Engineering Kawasaki round the circuit at 133.287mph, with Conor Cummins completing the front row of the grid.
Hickman, Man of the Meeting at the UGP for the last two years, would appear to be on his way to adding to his tally of wins around the iconic circuit.
The second row sees Lee Johnston alongside new Irish road race Superbike champion Derek Sheils.
Michael Dunlop is a lowly ninth on the grid on the Tyco BMW and has a lot of hard work to do if he is to challenge the Hickman and Harrison show in the Superbike races while still carrying his recent injuries.
In fact, he pulled out of last night's Superbike race which puts his participation tomorrow in doubt.
In Superstock, it was the double H show again with Hickman fastest at 130.871mph and Harrison 1.883 seconds behind at 129.672mph.
Johnston took the final front row spot with Jamie Coward and Davey Todd on row two and Paul Jordan, who had a spill at Leathemstown on his third lap and emerged unscathed, sixth fastest.
Dunlop completed six laps but was way off the pace down in 29th position, 16 seconds behind Hickman.
Duleek ace Alan Connor crashed at Dawson's Bend during the Superstock and was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital by ambulance after track-side medical treatment.
His injuries were later described as minor.
British Superbikes star Hickman made it a hat-trick of pole positions in the Supersport class.
He was just over half a second ahead of Johnston, who is chasing a North West 200, TT and UGP Supersport treble.
Hickman lapped at 128.511mph, Johnston 128.079mph with Harrison third fastest at 126.475mph.
Todd and Cummins make up row two with Coward, Jordan and Michael Sweeney on the third row.
Neil Kernohan, Davy Morgan and Gareth Keys all make up the front row of the Lightweight class, while Michael Dokoupil. Christian Elkin and Gary Dunlop are all on the front row for the concurrently ran Ultra-Lightweight class.
Supertwin will be a dog fight with Jordan starting from pole. He was just over half a second ahead of relative newcomer Joseph Loughlin, riding the ILR/ Mark Coverdale Paton for the first time.
Coward, Johnston, Christian Elkin and Sweeney, meanwhile, make up the top six on the time sheets.