As part of major changes for the MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix, the Dundrod 150 races have been dropped from the events 2018 schedule.
The usual traditional opening races at Dundrod, will now be replaced by additional Supersport, Ultra Lightweight/Lightweight, Super Twins and Superbike Ulster GP encounters.
As per tradition with the Dundrod 150, the races will run on Thursday of race week, on the 9th of August.
Seven races are set to run on feature race day, the 11th of August, this means that in total riders next year will have 11 chances in total to clinch an international road race victory, at the Ulster GP.
Added subtle changes to the events schedule include the first 15 minutes of practice sessions on Wednesday the 8th of August been not timed.
Photo by Rod Neill
Whilst the high profile Superbike Superpole session is to be replaced by 15 minute warm up sessions on race day for the Superbike, Superstock and Supersport classes, with prospective entrants for each class needing at least an international level race licence.
National licence holders hoping to compete are eligible for the Ultra Lightweight, Lightweight and Super Twin races.
Speaking about the major overhaul of changes to the world’s fastest road race, Ulster GP Clerk of the Course Noel Johnston said:
“I’ve reviewed how the event runs and taken on board many different views over the past couple of years before making any changes.
Ultimately these decisions have been made with both safety and practicality in mind and we must keep pushing the bar on both fronts as Bike Week continues to grow.
I know there will be riders who are disappointed that two of the national races are going but we see this as the best way to keep progressing the event, and please be assured that the decision wasn’t taken lightly.
The untimed practice sessions on Wednesday and the 15 minute warm up session on the Saturday morning instead of Superpole have been included to enhance safety precautions, allowing everyone time to get used to the track, and the conditions on that particular day.”
Adding about changes in terms of entries for newcomers and all competitors, he stated:
“Unfortunately there are still too many unnecessary rider error incidents for my liking and because of that I’ll be looking closely at each entry before accepting them.
Every year I hold a briefing session for all competitors and one of the key messages for everyone, but particularly relevant for newcomers, is that Dundrod is an incredibly fast and technical circuit which must be treated with respect, and that means doing a serious amount of homework before you ever head out on a closed road.
To that end, the overall number of newcomers will be restricted, it will be mandatory for newcomers to attend an induction day with us and they must be prepared to put in some serious groundwork in advance of taking to the grid for the first time.
I’d like to thank in advance all of our stakeholders including the race fans and of course the competitors for continuing to work with us to achieve a common goal; which is a safe, enjoyable and successful Bike Week for everyone.”
2017 MCE Insurance Ulster GP Man of the Meeting Peter Hickman, threw his backing behind the changes to the meeting which thus far has yielded him four wins.
“These changes are being made for the good of everyone, not just the riders but also the spectators and I think the fans are going to get an even better show from now on.
The Ulster will now be a much bigger event and that’s the whole point, to make the event the biggest, the best and the safest it can be.
The introduction of a warm up session on the Saturday morning instead of Superpole is really good.
It just means that you go out fresh off the bat, get a good run round without any pressure, make sure everything is alright and get yourself into the groove for racing. It’s definitely the right way forward.
The Dundrod circuit is the fastest in the world and the changes are all about making sure everyone gives it the respect it deserves.”
Words by Stevie Rial