Belfast Telegraph

Ulster GP can become world's fastest road race again this year, say Hickman and Harrison

 

Glove affair: Peter Hickman, Mayor Alan Givan, Noel Johnston, Alderman James Tinsley and Dean Harrison at Dundrod
Glove affair: Peter Hickman, Mayor Alan Givan, Noel Johnston, Alderman James Tinsley and Dean Harrison at Dundrod

By Roy Harris

Peter Hickman, a triple TT winner a few weeks ago, and his arch-rival Dean Harrison, the Senior TT victor, visited the famous Dundrod Circuit yesterday to launch the 2019 Ulster Grand Prix, which will take place between August 5-10.

Both admitted that they are eyeing the opportunity to reinstate Dundrod as the world's fastest road race after Smiths BMW pilot Hickman snatched that title for the Isle of Man TT with a final lap of 135.452mph on his way to 2018 Senior TT victory.

That bettered the 134.614mph lap record set by Silicone Engineering Kawasaki rider Harrison during the 2017 Ulster Grand Prix Superbike race, when he finished third behind Bruce Anstey and Hickman in the fastest ever race around the 7.4-mile Dundrod Circuit. It saw the top five riders all lap over the 134mph mark.

Hickman said: "If the conditions are right and the track is good, I think Dundrod can be fastest again. Overall, I think the Ulster is a faster track with only one slow corner."

Harrison, still the fastest man around the Dundrod Circuit, agreed with Hickman's thoughts and added: "All we need in August is sunshine, a good close race and the lap record could well go."

However, both declared that their main focus is on race wins and podiums rather than lap records.

Harrison said: "I would rather stand on the podium, preferably the top step, than claim that record, even if it is a world record."

Their battle has dominated road racing's international events over the last two seasons and both have laid down strong markers ahead of the Ulster.

Burton-on-Trent rider Hickman has been declared Man of the Meeting at the last two UGPs, the 32-year-old a multi-race winner at the NW200, TT, Macau and the Ulster since making his shift to the roads in 2014 alongside his BSB campaign.

Harrison (30), from Bradford, is a double Ulster Grand Prix winner. He has taken the fight to Hickman and holds both the Superstock and Superbike lap records around Dundrod, with the duo set to go head-to-head in Superbike, Superstock and Supersport races in August.

UGP clerk of the course Noel Johnston paid tribute to Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council's continued support of the event. He said: "I thank the Mayor, all the elected members and council staff for their continued assistance. The support we receive from council is vital and the race would not happen without it."

Also delighted to have secured the services of the world's top road racing duo for the 2019 Dundrod festival of speed, Johnston added: "It's just six weeks until the start of Ulster Grand Prix Bike Week and this year's event promises to be one of the fastest and most exciting.

"To have Peter and Dean heading the entry is tremendous. They are the two riders doing the most winning at the international road races at the minute and will be coming on top form after their TT performances.

"However, it will not all be about this pair and we will be announcing an impressive line-up to challenge them, and this will make the Ulster Grand Prix a mouth-watering prospect for every road race fan."

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