Belfast Telegraph

It's Peter the great as records burn on Hickman's week at Ulster Grand Prix

 

Man of the moment: Peter Hickman (centre) celebrates winning the UGP 1st Supersport race with runner up Bruce Anstey (left) and third placed Lee Johnston
Man of the moment: Peter Hickman (centre) celebrates winning the UGP 1st Supersport race with runner up Bruce Anstey (left) and third placed Lee Johnston
Fastest man: Dean Harrison ahead of Dan Kneen and Conor Cummins in Superbike 2

By Roy Harris

What a day of breathtaking action, no holds barred, close to the edge racing!

Saturday's MCE Ulster Grand Prix produced a new Absolute Lap Record of 134.396mph, set by Dean Harrison; Peter Hickman emerged Man of the Meeting with a treble and Manxman Dan Kneen claimed a double podium on a blistering one-off appearance for Tyco BMW.

Other highlights included the first 120mph laps from Supertwin machines, Bruce Anstey showing there is life in the old boy yet and two local winners, Davy Morgan in the Lightweight and Paul Robinson in the Ultra Lightweight races.

Lincolnshire rider Hickman, whose exploits dominated UGP week, said: "It's been an awesome day and I'm obviously over the moon with a hat-trick of wins in extremely tough, close racing, as you expect at the Ulster.

"I led most of the laps in most of the races and I'm happy doing that. I wanted to make a break in the races, but it only worked in Superstock. It's been a mega last few weeks for the Smiths BMW Team and I'd like to send best wishes to the injured riders this week."

If there were ever any doubts as to why riders and spectators flock back to Dundrod year after year, this meeting gave us the answer - and full credit must go to Clerk of the Course Noel Johnston, the organising Dundrod Club, the marshals and medical personnel after the trials and tribulations of Thursday evening when serious incidents and, tragically, the fatal accident involving Jamie Hodson, obviously shocked many to the core.

Hickman led the opening Superstock race from start to finish, all eyes on a dog-fight for second between Harrison and Kneen that lasted the entire six lap race distance, the Silicone Kawasaki edging the Tyco BMW as they flashed past the chequered flag four one hundredths apart.

In the end, Hickman took the Smiths BMW to a four and a half second win with Dave Johnson, Conor Cummins and Jamie Coward completing the top six with Michael Dunlop seventh.

The first Supersport race gave Hickman a quickfire double after a great battle with Anstey and Lee Johnston, making his racing return following his TT practice accident.

A second covered the top five for the opening laps and at the chequered flag less than a second covered the top three at the end of six heart-stopping laps with the lead changing hands constantly. Harrison, William Dunlop and Michael Dunlop completed the top six.

Hickman went on to complete a Supersport double on the Trooper Beer by Smiths Triumph, but only after what he described as a 'tough move' on Johnston, who was leading at Wheelers on the last lap.

The move saw Hickman 'lift' Johnston mid corner to take the lead, a move that also allowed Anstey into second, Johnston finishing in third. Michael Dunlop was fourth ahead of a great ride from Paul Jordan in fifth and Coward sixth.

Anstey was favourite for the Lightweight race, but retired at the end of lap one, leaving Neil Kernohan in a solid lead only for the Logan Honda to quit on him at the end of lap three handing the lead to Davy Morgan, who won by four and a half seconds from Paul Owen with Callum Laidlaw the top 400cc machine third overall.

In the concurrently ran Ultra Lightweight race Paul Robinson emerged victorious over Christian Elkin, who broke the Moto3 lap record, by a quarter of a second.

Ivan Lintin and Dan Cooper were split by a mere two hundredths of a second after five tight Supertwin laps, the pair becoming the first riders to lap at over 120mph in the class with Lintin first to take the chequered flag. Adam McLean was a good third 1.8secs ahead of Sheils and Christian Elkin.

An absolutely stunning day's racing certainly enhanced the reputation of Hickman and Kneen as teams look for top class riders for the international races in 2018.

Tyco BMW team boss Philip Neill said: With virtually no pre-event testing, to record a 134mph lap was impressive by Dan. At one stage my father (Hector Neill) and I considered giving the Grand Prix a miss with our rider Ian Hutchinson injured, but we felt we owed it to the fans to compete, as we have been long-time supporters of the event."

It should make for brilliant television tonight and tomorrow night on BBC1 at 10.40pm.

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