Belfast Telegraph

Ulster GP results: Hickman provides silver lining amid dark cloud over Dundrod

By Roy Harris

Two wins and a second gave Smiths BMW/Trooper Triumph rider Peter Hickman his second Darran Lindsay Man of the Meeting Trophy at Saturday's MCE Ulster Grand Prix.

A day that began with bright sunshine quite literally ended under a dark cloud as red flags and accidents amid rapidly changing and difficult weather conditions gave Clerk of the Course Noel Johnston no option but to abandon the meeting.

By then French rider Fabrice Miguet had been hospitalised after an opening race crash, sustaining injuries, described in a statement from the organising Dundrod club yesterday as 'unsurvivable.'

In-form Davey Todd, riding for the Cookstown-based John Burrows team, was also taken to hospital after a later accident and, in better news, released yesterday.

A frustrating day all round saw the roads close at 9.30am, a delay to the first ever 20-minute warm-up period at the event and the question has to be asked if this was really necessary? It meant the first race did not take place until 11.30am and with poor weather forecast the time may have been better used with racing.

Then we had an incident with a spectator requiring hospital treatment for a suspected dislocated shoulder after his 'selfie-stick' was clipped by Magherafelt rider Paul Jordan as he flashed past. This sport is dangerous enough for competitors without irresponsible behaviour like this. I quote from the race programme, "The use of drones and selfie sticks are strictly prohibited."

The opening Superstock race had got the day off superbly in sunny conditions, before the accident at Joey's Windmill, with Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison (below) locked in battle at the front. Harrison on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki set a new lap record of 133.835mph on lap two to lead with Hickman also under the old record and a mere 0.045 seconds slower than his rival at 133.805mph.

Hickman made his move to the front on lap five, but the red flags stopped the race and the result taken from lap four when Harrison led by less than a quarter of a second.

An equally close battle between Thursday's Supersport winner Conor Cummins and the impressive Davey Todd saw the Padgetts Honda claim the last podium position by less than half a second from the Cookstown BE Suzuki with Lee Johnston fifth and an inspired ride from Paul Jordan on his debut ride for the Dafabet Devitt Kawasaki team in sixth.

After a long delay, the Whitemountain Centra Supersport race saw Hickman, this time Triumph mounted, take the lead halfway around the first lap increasing his advantage on each of the six-laps with a dominant performance, coming home almost eight seconds clear of a Padgetts Honda scrap that saw Lee Johnston cross the finish line 0.041 seconds ahead of team mate Cummins with Gortreagh Kawasaki pilot Adam McLean less than a second back in fourth after a terrific race.

A close scrap for fifth went in favour of Michael Sweeney by a quarter of a second from Jordan while Harrison retired on lap four.

Hickman commented: "The Triumph was running really strong and I had a good drive out of Joey's on that first lap to pass Dean and Adam and put a gap between us. I don't know what happened Dean, but the gap kept growing and I just kept my head down and kept hitting my points and pulled away."

The 7-lap feature MMB Resurfacing UGP Superbike race was brought forward on the schedule with poor weather forecast and this was a real challenge for everyone involved, as it was stopped twice.

Firstly, Davey Todd came off at the high-speed Deers Leap. Cummins had led, then slid off at the Hairpin and got run over by Hickman, although unhurt.

On the re-start rain began to fall and the red flag was displayed as the top 20 riders headed onto lap three with Hickman declared the winner on the Smiths BMW, 1.4 seconds clear of the Honda Racing mounted Lee Johnston, who had just set the fastest lap at 127.836mph.

There was a debut podium for David Johnson on the Tyco BMW, 1.1 seconds clear of a remarkable performance by Jordan on the Dafabet Devitt Kawasaki fourth two seconds behind the Australian. Harrison had pitted at the end of lap two.

The Plant Lubrication (NI) Ultra-Lightweight/Lightweight race lasted two laps with a first international road race victory for Banbridge rider Shaun Anderson who headed home Thursday's winner Neil Kernohan by seven seconds, both 250GP Honda mounted with the 400cc Kawasaki of Darryl Tweed in third.

The Ultra-Lightweight win went to Czech Republic rider Michal 'Indy' Dokoupil on his Moto3 Ariane by two tenths of a second from Christian Elkin with Gary Dunlop the first 125GP machine home in sixth.

That was racing over and the absolute correct decision by Noel Johnston, Clerk of the Course, to abandon the rest of the race programme, as rider safety is paramount in every decision and if one flag marshal cannot see the next then it is not safe to carry on. Of course it was disappointing after the summer that has been for both Armoy Race of Legends and now the MCE Ulster Grand Prix succumb to prevailing weather conditions.

Hickman summed the day up from his perspective saying, "It's such a shame the rain brought an end to the day, but I'm happy for myself and the team that we got the results we did. It's also nice to win at each of the three international road races and to be Man of the Meeting twice in a row is mega."

Paul Jordan said: "It's been a really successful meeting for me and to lap in excess of 131mph plus a fourth position in a Superbike race is brilliant. We gelled with the Dafabet Davitt Kawasaki Team right away as the first time I rode the ZX-10R was down the Flying Kilo on Wednesday. I left Dundrod with two sixths and a fourth plus my personal goal a 130mph lap, so yes, a great meeting."

- Jorge Lorenzo secured his third victory of the MotoGP campaign with an impressive ride at Spielberg in Austria.

Lorenzo, riding the Ducati, held off Honda's Marc Marquez at the Red Bull Ring in Austria to claim a win by 0.130 seconds.

Lorenzo moves up to third in the standings, with Marquez remaining at the top.

Lorenzo's Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso also got on the podium in third place, having at one point led the race.

Valentino Rossi recovered from 14th place on the grid to a sixth-placed finish.

Ulster Grand Prix 2018 results

MMB Resurfacing Superbike: 1st P. Hickman avg. speed 126.373mph, 2nd L. Johnston 125.952, 3rd D. Johnson 125.603, 4th P. Jordan 124.921, 5th B. McCormack 124.859, 6th S. West 122.251

Fastest lap: L. Johnston – 3m 28.423secs – 127.836mph

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council Superstock: 1st D. Harrison avg. speed 131.802mph, 2nd P. Hickman 131.768, 3rd C. Cummins 130.967, 4th D. Todd 130.902, 5th L. Johnston 129.685, 6th P. Jordan 129.364

New Lap Record:  Harrison – 3m 19.081secs – 133.835

Whitemountain Centra Supersport: 1st P. Hickman avg. speed 126.977mph, 2nd L. Johnston 126.180, 3rd C. Cummins 126.176, 4th A. McLean 126.089, 5th M. Sweeney 124.211, 6th P. Jordan 124.192

Plant Lubrication (NI) Lightweight: 1st S. Anderson avg. speed 104.979mph, 2nd N. Kernohan 103.542, 3rd D. Tweed 103.014, 4th G. Keys 102.554, 5th P. Owen 101.323, 6th S. Morrison 98.995

Fastest Lap: Anderson – 4m 08.921secs – 107.038mph

Plant Lubrication (NI) Ultra-Lightweight: 1st M. Dokoupil avg. speed 98.534mph, 2nd C. Elkin 98.466, 3rd P. Robinson 98.071, 4th N. Moore 96.716, 5th Melissa Kennedy 96.419, 6th G. Dunlop 96.345

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