By Phil Wain BSN at Dundrod,
Peter Hickman equalled Phillip McCallen’s 23-year old record of five wins in a meeting at the Ulster Grand Prix when victory in Saturday’s feature Superbike race maintained his 100% winning record at this year’s event.
The Smiths Racing BMW rider had to work a bit harder on this occasion than his two previous races on Saturday but once he’d seen off the early challenge of Dean Harrison, he edged away to win by an eventual 3.018s. Harrison slipped back to third before overhauling Conor Cummins on the last lap.
It was the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki rider who got the holeshot but his lead over Hickman at the end of the first of the six laps was only 0.117s with Cummins only half a second further back in third. They’d made a bit of a break over fourth placed Derek Sheils as Lee Johnston made his now customary slow getaway and dropped as low as tenth.
Hickman grabbed the lead going into Rock Bends on lap two with Cummins also getting past Harrison, this time on the high speed run through Budore, and a lap of 123.603mph gave Hickman a 2.1s lead at the end of the lap. Only 0.4s separated Cummins and Harrison as Sheils maintained fourth ahead of Johnston and Davey Todd.
By half race distance, Hickman’s lead had more than doubled to 4.7s, aided by a lap of 125.517mph, but he was given a warning by the damp conditions as the rear wheel stepped out as he rounded Dawson’s onto the start and finish.
Harrison had moved back up to second only for Cummins to regain the runners-up spot along the Flying Kilo on the fourth lap and as they continued to battle, Johnston closed in rapidly.
As the race entered its final stages, spots of rain began to fall once more and with his lead having got as high as six seconds, Hickman eased back slightly on the final lap to win by more than three seconds. It was his fifth win of the meeting and 11th Ulster GP win in total, which is already the joint fifth highest total of all time.
The battle for second went all the way to the line but with the fastest lap of the race, 126.321mph, it was Harrison who got the verdict from Cummins by 0.865s, the Manxman taking his third podium of the week.
Johnston took fourth with Todd finishing fifth as Sheils slipped back slightly to sixth. David Johnson had a relatively lonely ride into seventh as Frenchman Xavier Denis’s excellent week continued with eighth. David Jackson and Mike Booth completed the top ten.