Road Racing News

MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix Preview: Part 1 – Superbike Races

Elite roads names a plenty, are set to battle for the much coveted Ulster GP Superbike crowns, next week at Dundrod.

As always, Michael Dunlop starts one of the firm favourites for wins. Looking at one in recent times with the Bennetts Suzuki, signalled by his Southern 100 and Armoy display’s, he’s recently topped 150 roads victories, in his illustrious career.

Photo by Rod Neill

There is though one major honour, which as yet has passed him by, the feature Ulster GP Superbike race.

Having come close on many occasions for victory in the blue riband race at Dundrod, many believe the 2017 running of the world’s fastest road race, will see him chalk up a first feature race success.

The 15 times TT winner, is facing a tough battle though for victory, as he competes against truly world class competitors, such as Smiths Racing’s Peter Hickman.

Winner of the Joey Dunlop Championship at TT 2017, he’s firmly established himself in recent times as a roads ‘Alien’.

A proven Ulster GP front runner, it would not surprise many if he wraps up a brace of big bike victories.

Same applies to the evergreen Bruce Anstey, who will be reunited with the exotic Padgetts RC213V-S Honda.

Essentially a standard version of a Moto GP machine, Bruce proved last year it’s competitiveness, coming extremely close to race wins.

Although he’s now 48 years of age, he’s still as determined as ever for more international roads success.

The flying Kiwi alongside Hickman and Dunlop, are widely tipped to be the consistent Superbike front runners, don’t discount though the on form Dean Harrison.

Enjoying arguably the best roads campaign of his career, the Bradford based racer is anticipated to lead the Kawasaki challenge at Dundrod.

Photo by Nick Wheeler

Outside of the Silicone Engineering Racing rider, the likes of Conor Cummins, the returning to competition Lee Johnston, William Dunlop and Cookstown BE Racing’s Derek Sheils are all more capable of wrapping up a rostrum finish or two.

You can add the same notion to new to the Tyco BMW fold, Dan Kneen, who could well prove the joker in the pack.

Dark horses for at minimum top five finishes include David Johnson, Radcliffe’s Racing’s Jamie Coward, Dafabet Devitt Racing’s Ivan Lintin, Derek McGee, Michael Sweeney and Phil Crowe.

Added notable entrants include Top Gun Racing’s Dan Hegarty, Dan Cooper, Optimark Road Racing’s Julien Toniutti and Xavier Denis, Sam West, Brian McCormack, Dominic Herbertson and rising star Adam McLean.

Keep an eye as well on high profile newcomers such as accomplished Mountain Course exponents Craig Neve and Rob Hodson.

In my opinion, getting closer and closer to the TT’s, in terms of been the leading international roads event worldwide, the MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix’s stock, is ever improving.

Photo by Rod Neill

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 135 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

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