Elite roads names a plenty are set to battle for the much coveted Ulster GP Superbike crowns, next week at Dundrod.
For many the firm favourite to scoop multiple premier class victories is six times event winner Peter Hickman.
In tremendous form at TT 2019, claiming three race wins, regaining the Joey Dunlop Championship title, Smiths Racing’s Hickman is considered by many at this moment in time, as the world’s leading International Road Racer.
Photo by Tommy Vennard
Formidable in recent years at Dundrod, it’s going to take performances of the absolute highest quality from his fellow competitors to emerge on top against him.
Dunlop Senior TT winner Dean Harrison is widely regarded as the biggest threat to respected rival Hickman’s big bike victory ambitions.
Photo by Tommy Vennard
Well and truly established as a roads ‘Alien’, the quick witted, fiercely determined Harrison who claimed last year Ulster GP Superstock race honours, has benefited hugely this year from track time a plenty gained within the British Superbike Championship.
Happy with the performance and speed of Silicone Engineering Racing’s Kawasaki Superbike, it wouldn’t at all be a surprise if the 78 times a race winner at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough banks this August another new outright event lap record.
Outside of Harrison, Hickman, you can’t discount Milenco by Padgetts in form Conor Cummins from securing at least one Superbike victory.
Don’t discount as well fitness permitting Tyco BMW’s Michael Dunlop plus Honda Racing’s David Johnson from springing what could be considered a slight surprise in bringing the works Honda outfit back to the top step of the podium. Another potential rostrum finisher is undoubtedly Penz 13 BMW’s Davey Todd.
IRRC Superbike series leader, Brotton’s Todd has excelled and some this year at a selection of Europe’s most famous, illustrious roads courses including Imatranajo (Finland), Circuit De Chimay (Belgium) and Terlicko (Czech Republic).
Recently about his upcoming third Ulster GP tenure, he stated his confidence about contending for strong finishes.
“I haven’t really been off a motorbike this summer and it is perfect preparation for me. I don’t want to create too much expectation for myself but I know what I am capable of.
I am coming to Dundrod to win but I am not going to lay everything on the line to do it. I wasn’t far away from Hicky and Dean Harrison last year but this is only my second year at Dundrod on a big bike and I am still learning. I am not at the stage where I can push to 100 percent just yet.”
Todd went onto praise employers Penz 13 BMW who are venturing for the first time to Dundrod.
“The Penz team is really experienced and know how everything works at this level. Rico has raced the North West 200 and TT and my mechanic Benny Jerzenback has stood on the podium at the North West 200 as well. It is good for me to have a team like that behind me.”
Photo by Rod Neill
Further depth to this year’s UGP Superbike entry is provided by the likes of the in form Derek Sheils (BE Racing In Conjunction With Richardson Kelly Racing), eight times International Road Race winner Lee Johnston (Ashcourt Racing), TT Privateers Champion Jamie Coward (PreZ Racing),
Paul Jordan (Dafabet Devitt Racing), Michael Sweeney (Martin Jones Racing BMW), Enniskillen feature race winner Forest Dunn, Market Rasen’s Phil Crowe, Brian McCormack, fitness permitting Derek McGee and potentially PRL Racing’s Sam West.
Added confirmed entrants include Davies Motorsport’s Dominic Herbertson, David ‘Action’ Jackson, 2016 Senior Manx GP winner Tom Weeden, Spain’s Raul Torras Martinez plus talented newcomers such as James Chawke and Czech road racing star Kamil Holan.
Regarded by various roads aficionados, many teams, racers as the world’s leading International roads event, the FonaCAB Ulster Grand Prix’s stock is ever improving.
Two close fought, captivating Superbike races are a guarantee this month. It’s a brave call to state who will taking the winners laurels, I will state one prediction though; if the weather and track conditions are spot on, don’t be surprised to see a lap speed of excess of 136 mph.
This may seem inconceivable to some but to win races at Dundrod you have to be on above and beyond form, given the sheer top class level of competitors/machinery.
Roll on the race action!
Words by Stevie Rial, quotes provided by Stephen Davison