The world’s finest road racers are about to take to the track for the world’s fastest road race, with the start of the Ulster Grand Prix race week just days away.
Lap record holder Bruce Anstey will be joined by Ian Hutchinson, William and Michael Dunlop, and Guy Martin. Along with the likes of Keith Amor, Conor Cummins, Dean Harrison, Lee Johnston, Dan Kneen, Ivan Lintin, Peter Hickman, and Glenn Irwin it is a stellar line-up set to compete at the third International road racing event of the year.
Bike Week runs from 3rd – 8th August, with practice and racing taking place on the Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. A host of events are planned for the week and a programme of the schedule can be found on the Ulster Grand Prix official website. Practice sessions will take place on the Wednesday, with roads due to close at 12pm, with Dundrod 150 races taking place on Thursday along with further practice for the Ulster Grand Prix. Racing for the main event will take place on the Saturday. Roads are due to close at 10.30am on Thursday, opening again by 9.30pm while they will close at 8.30am on Saturday morning.
Last year Bruce Anstey was named Man of the Meeting, taking wins in both the Supersport and Superbike classes. There were difficult conditions on the Saturday and a number of red flags but there was some close racing including a 0.001 second victory for Dan Kneen over Dean Harrison in the Superstock race. Anstey and Guy Martin went wheel to wheel in the Dundrod 150 Superbike race and the corresponding race in the Ulster Grand Prix. Martin took the laurels in the Dundrod 150 race, beating Anstey and Michael Dunlop, while Anstey overtook the Tyco Suzuki rider on the last lap of the Superbike race on Saturday. Lee Johnston finished in third place. The feature race and one of the Supersport races were later abandoned due to deteriorating weather conditions.
The most recent Irish National Road Race was at Armoy last weekend, where Michael and William Dunlop were amongst the race winners. Guy Martin was also in strong form, winning the first Superbike race ahead of his team-mate. Martin is the most successful current rider at the Ulster Grand Prix and he is one of the favourites to add further wins to his tally. There has been plenty of national action since the last international road race – the Isle of Man TT in June – as well as the Southern 100. At the North West 200 in May it may have been Alistair Seeley monopolising the top step of the podium, but riders including Lee Johnston and Glenn Irwin put in strong performances and they will be ones to watch this coming week. Irwin made his Ulster Grand Prix debut last year and this year will see him with John Burrows BE Racing team on the Supertwin. He is standing in for Jamie Hamilton who was seriously injured in an accident at the TT but is recovering well. Ian Hutchinson was back to winning ways at the TT – securing a hat-trick of victories – and he will no doubt be hoping to continue his strong form into the Ulster. Bruce Anstey can never be discounted as his impressive record of a podium finish at every North West 200, TT and Ulster Grand Prix since his 2002 proves. Another one to watch will be Peter Hickman who made his debut last year and completed a 131mph lap of the Dundrod circuit.
This year the Ulster Grand Prix has launched an app in association with FanZone which includes features such as allowing fans to arrange car shares and travel arrangements for the week. The app is available to download for free on both iOS and Android.
Wristbands for the week cost £25 and can be purchased from Lidl stores and road ends at the circuit, amongst other places.