Peter Hickman has come away from the 2017 Ulster Grand Prix as Man of the Meeting after taking three victories. It was Dean Harrison, however, who set a new lap record of 134.614mph – beating the record of 134.089mph set by Ian Hutchinson in 2016.
Hickman signified he was the man to beat in practice when he secured pole position for the Superbike, Superstock and Supersport races. He then went on to win the Dundrod 150 Superbike race although Harrison was not far behind.
First up was the Superstock race and Hickman opened his account with a 4.674 second victory over Harrison on his Smith’s BMW. Harrison and Dan Kneen were separated by just four hundredths of a second on the line, with Kneen taking a podium on his first International appearance for Tyco BMW. David Johnson finished in fourth ahead of Conor Cummins and Jamie Coward. Michael Dunlop was seventh, ahead of Ivan Lintin, Dan Cooper, and Daley Mathison.
Switching to his Trooper Beer Triumph, Hickman was victorious again – this time in the Supersport race. He battled with Bruce Anstey throughout the race with the winning margin just a tenth of a second. Lee Johnston was third on his return to racing following his crash at the Isle of Man TT. He was less than a second behind the leading duo. Harrison finished in fourth just ahead of William Dunlop who was riding with a wrist injury. Dunlop’s injury had led him to withdraw from the ‘big bike’ races but he put in a competitive performance for fifth ahead of his brother Michael. Cummins was seventh, Derek McGee eighth, Coward ninth and Adam McLean tenth.
There was a popular victory for Davy Morgan in the Ultra Lightweight/Lightweight race. He beat fellow paddock veteran Paul Owen by over four seconds with Callum Laidlaw coming home in third place. Race favourite Anstey retired after just a lap with Neil Kernohan also retiring. The two had stood on the top two steps of the podium in the corresponding Dundrod 150 race. David Howard and Paul Gartland were fourth and fifth respectively. In the Ultra Lightweight class Paul Robinson beat Christian Elkin and Joey Thompson. McLean was fourth and Gary Dunlop fifth.
It was Hickman and Anstey once again leading the charge in the Superbike race, with the pair switching positions throughout. It was eventually a last lap overtake which saw Anstey take the win – his 13th at Dundrod. Hickman was just two tenths behind with Harrison – along with the new lap record- in third. Kneen was once again just hundredths behind Harrison and only marginally ahead of Cummins at the chequered flag. Sheils came home in sixth place ahead of Johnson and Coward. Sam West and Mathison rounded out the top ten finishers.
The fifth race of the day – the second Supersport race – brought out the first red flag of the day following an incident. When it was restarted it proved to be another close affair with the resulting podium the same as in the first Supersport race. Hickman beat Anstey and Johnston with the margin between the top four just over a second. M Dunlop was fourth ahead of Paul Jordan, Coward, Elkin, Cooper and Cowton. Thompson finished in tenth place.
There was another new lap record, this time in the Supertwin class with Ivan Lintin winning. His 120.402mph lap beat the previous Supertwin lap record of 118.735mph. It was yet another narrow margin of victory as he beat Cooper by just two hundredths of a second. There was a podium for McLean who has impressed on the roads this year. Sheils racked up another top five finish in fourth with Elkin fifth and James Cowton sixth. Jonathan Perry and Paul Jordan were seventh and eighth respectively, ahead of Xavier Denis and Maria Costello.
The final race of the day – and the meeting – was the second Superbike race which promised to be another thriller. Unfortunately Hickman and Anstey were forced to retire – Hickman’s engine blew while Anstey retired to the pits – leaving Harrison, Kneen, Cummins and M Dunlop to battle it out. In the end the top three were separated by just three tenths of a second after an exhilarating race. Harrison and Kneen touched as Harrison sent a move up the inside but both continued and eventually Harrison was victorious. Kneen was second with Cummins coming home third. M Dunlop ended the day with a fourth place ahead of Sheils, Johnson and Coward. Sam West was eighth ahead of Lintin and Michael Sweeney.