By Phil Wain BSN at Dundrod
Peter Hickman made it two wins from two starts at Thursday’s Ulster Grand Prix when, riding the Trooper Beer by Smiths Racing Triumph, he came from behind on the final lap of the Supersport race to beat Ashcourt Racing’s Lee Johnston by 0.357s. Dean Harrison took a distant third.
The duo had been locked in battle for the entire five laps with positions changing hands frequently and although Johnston led by half a second at the end of the first lap, that was the biggest lead he ever had and with Hickman setting the fastest lap of the race at 127.937mph, he duly took his second win of the day.
Harrison grabbed the lead off the line but by the end of the lap, Johnston led Hickman with Davey Todd (Milenco by Padgetts Honda) and Harrison in hot pursuit. Jamie Coward and Conor Cummins followed with three seconds covering the top seven.
On lap two, Johnston and Hickman began to edge away and although they were only separated by 0.129s at the end of the lap, they were now 1.2s clear of Todd and Harrison, the former being quickest through the speed trap at 180mph. Coward and Cummins were now disputing sixth.
On the third lap, Hickman took the lead for the first time at the Windmill but by the start and finish, Johnston was back in the lead and it was now a two-horse race as Todd and Harrison, who were only 0.2s apart, slipped further behind, the gap to the leaders now over two seconds.
Indeed, the race became a battle between three pairings before Todd went out at Quarterlands on the fourth lap and as they went into the fifth and final lap, Johnston led Hickman by just 0.103s. Harrison was now in a lonely third as Coward and Cummins continued to dispute what was now fourth place although Paul Jordan and Michael Sweeney were rapidly closing in.
Johnston was still leading at the Windmill but Hickman went ahead at Wheeler’s only for Johnston to immediately respond and as they headed from the hairpin back to the start and finish, they were side by side.
However, as they took the chequered flag, Hickman got the win by 0.357s with Johnston having to settle for second as Harrison finished in a distant third, almost nine seconds adrift.
Coward got the verdict for fourth and was followed quickly across the line by Cummins, Jordan and Sweeney, only nine tenths of a second covering the quartet at the flag. There was an equally close battle for eighth but it went the way of David Johnson who nosed ahead of Frenchman Xavier Denis and Dominic Herbertson on the final lap.