Roy Adams’ Ulster Grand Prix preview
BY the time you read this, the 2012 Ulster Grand Prix Bike Week will be under way.
Various events go to make up Bike Week, and full details can be had on the Dundrod and District clubs website or Google Ulster Grand Prix.
On track action starts on Wednesday, with the practice for the both the McKinstry Skip Hire Ulster Grand Prix and the Topaz Dundrod 150 races. Roads close on Wednesday at 1.30pm, opening before 9.30pm.
It’s a busier day on Thursday, when the roads close at 10.30am until 8.30pm. The Topaz Dundrod 150 races got under way after UGP practice on Thursday. It’s hoped to get racing proper under way about 2pm. On Saturday roads close at 9.30am and will re open before 8.30pm.
I’ve had a quick look at the riders lists and while it’s true men like McGuinness, Hutchy, Gary Johnston and Cameron Donald will be missing theres more than enough star riders there to ensure that we have a good day’s racing, some of the best racing even to be found down the field in the lower positions.
In Thursday’s Topaz-sponsored Dundrod 150 National races, the first event of the programme will be the Dundrod National race.
It’s pretty hard to predict who will go well in this one, and in truth, I don’t want to go there with the whole predictions thing. Bernard Daly, better known as Benny, has been going well all year in the Support class on the roads, Add to this the 2012 Enkalon/Loanends Support champion Rodney Patton, Gary Millar, Richard McLoughlin, Dean Harrison, Jamie Coward, Ryan Kneen, Ivan Lintin, Damien Horan and Ryan McCay and we could be in for a quick race.
Cullybackey rider Sam Wilson, down to ride an R6, won’t have the outright power to mix it with the guys on full blown 750’s, so will probably suffer because of that. Bryan Harding, Mark Waddell and Trevor Reid are all local men who will ride 250GP bikes, and will undoubtedly be at a power disadvantage against the bigger bikes as well.
The second race of the day on Thursday will be the 125/SS400 and Supertwins event. Top 125 riders should be William Dunlop, Nigel Moore, Seamus Elliott, Sam Dunlop, Paul Robinson and Sam Wilson. In the Supertwins class, Ian Lougher, Adrian Archibald, John Burrows, Michael Dunlop, Ryan Farquhar, Michael Sweeney and William Davison will all be in the mix.
Andy Farrell possibly heads the SS400 entry, but still smarting from his puncture at Armoy, that cost him any chance of the 400 championship, Paul Maguire will be wanting to give a good account of himself. Right at the very bottom of the entry list, in number at any rate, Ballymena man Mark Sheilds will ride his little 250 Aprilia. While Mark will be very badly underpowered, he always gives a good steady account of himself.
The Dundrod Challenge race will see what will basically be a Support race. Benny Daly, Ryan Kneen, Sam Wilson, Ryan McCay, Rodney Patton and Gary Millar will all be well to the fore. Again we have local men Bryan Harding and Trevor Reid on 250s, while Sam Wilson, Jack McIlvenna, Dennis Booth, Stephen Beattie and Paul Simpson will all have bigger machines of varying capacities.
The final race of Thursday is the Dundrod Superbike. This will feature the top big bike riders as will be seen on the Saturday. Dave Johnston, Bruce Anstey, William and Michael Dunlop, Suzuki pairing of Guy Martin and Conor Cummins, Denver Robb and Ryan Farquhar are due to come to the line for what some will see as a final shake down before the Prix itself.
Roads close on Saturday morning at 9.30am. From there it’s straight into racing. The first race of the day is the Superstock event. Michael Dunlop seems, at least in my book, to be the man most likely to, but Ryan Farquhar, current Dundrod ALR holder Bruce Anstey, William Dunlop, Crumlin man Stephen Thompson and the Suzuki pairing of Conor Cummings and Guy Martin and Dave Johnson will all want to be there for a share in the top money.
Going to Dundrod last year with no race wins at the circuit, and taking a hat trick, it was definitely Michael Dunlop’s year in 2011. He has been on the crest of a wave recently, and has won something like 10 races at his last 3 meetings. He is more fired up than I have ever seen him, and I would be surprised if he wasn’t at least in line for a podium every time he came to the line. Hopefully his injured back, he slipped 2 discs lifting an engine last week, will respond to treatment and won’t give him too many problems.
The first of 2 outings for the Supersport 600 riders is next on the card. Again, Dave Johnson, Bruce Anstey, Guy Martin and Conor Cummins, William Dunlop and younger brother Michael and Brian McCormack will head the field. I would again expect Micky D to be near the front. Surprisingly, Ryan Farquhar isn’t entered in the 600 class, perhaps preferring to keep his energy for other outings. It’s already been said, the Dungannon man is winding down his career now, and will retire at the end of the year.
A good entry of GP250 machines will race at the same time as the Supertwins. William Dunlop, Davy Morgan, Paul Robinson, Rob Barber and Davy Morgan should be at the front of the field here. In the Supertwins, Ryan Farquhar will be the man to beat.
At Armoy, Jamie Hamilton, on another KMR ER6 was pushing Ryan until a mistake brought the Ballyclare rider off, nearly taking his team boss down as well. Damage to Hamiltons bike, which had already been sold to Chris Palmer prior to Armoy, was much more serious than first thought, and it’s unlikely that the Ballyclare rider will be on the line here. Not that it will take anything away. Michael Sweeney, Adrian Archibald, John Burrows, Ian Lougher, William Davison and possibly Michael Dunlop will make sure that the race doesn’t get boring. Interestingly enough, due to start at number 70 is Billy Cummins. He is Conor’s dad, and is certainly no slouch.
The first of the days 2 Superbike races is next. Ryan Farquhar is entered here, and while he has admitted that his Kawasaki was a wee bit off the pace during the early part of the season, he has also said that it’s almost where he wants it now. That can only spell bother for the likes of Michael Dunlop, brother William, who hopefully will be fully fit for the big bike after his nasty smash at Skerries, Bruce Anstey, Guy Martin and Conor Cummins. It’s a bit of an irony that Anstey set the fastest ever lap at Dundrod, 133.977mph in 2010, on the very last lap he ever rode for Suzuki.
Since then, I think it’s fair to say, the Moneymore based team haven’t been able to reclaim that sort of form, with Guy Martin in particular, failing to find the sort of race pace that we know he had with Wilson Craigs Hondas. Local men Stephen Thompson and Denver Robb are also entered and both are well capable of running in the top half dozen.
The final two races are the second Supersport 600 and the last Superbike outings, and will feature the same men as before.
I will have a full round up in next week’s Times.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Antrim
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 8 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North