Peter Hickman and the Gloucester-based Smiths Racing team enjoyed a superb day of racing at Saturday’s Ulster Grand Prix as they came away with three wins, a second place and a fully deserved ‘Man of the Meeting’ trophy.
Hickman opened his account for the day when he dominated the six-lap Superstock race on the Smiths BMW S1000RR eventually taking the chequered flag by almost five seconds. The 30-year-old grabbed the lead off the line and set the fastest lap of the race at 132.770mph, despite a few damp patches around the 7.4-mile Dundrod circuit, to consistently pull away from Dean Harrison and Dan Kneen.
Win number two came in the opening Supersport race but he didn’t have it easy on the Trooper Beer/Smiths Triumph as he only got the better of Bruce Anstey by 0.186s. The duo occupied the leading two positions all race but it was close behind too as just two seconds covered the top six. Although Anstey led from laps two to five, Peter was determined and with just one lap remaining grabbed the lead at Tournagrough.
The duo swapped the lead twice along the Flying Kilo on the final lap but Peter wasn’t to be denied and prevented Anstey from making an overtaking manoeuvre and duly took the chequered flag once more. However, the Kiwi would gain his revenge in the feature Superbike race which, held over seven laps, was the race of the day as five riders disputed the victory.
Peter led for the first three laps but Anstey was already making a charge breaking the outright lap record only set two days earlier and he took the lead on lap four. Try as he might, particularly on the last lap, Hickman was unable to find a gap and he had to settle for second at the chequered flag, just 0.272s adrift.
The Louth rider bounced back in the second Supersport race when he again went head to head with Anstey and also Lee Johnston and Michael Dunlop. The quartet were nose to tail throughout the six laps but Peter led every lap and although Johnston briefly nosed ahead on the final lap, a good move at Wheelers enabled Peter to seal the win to make it three wins from four starts.
That just left the second Superbike race, this time held over six laps, and with the sun shining, Hickman led at the end of the first lap but unfortunately a technical issue put him out shortly afterwards. However, his results from the previous four races had already seen him wrap up the Man of the Meeting.
Peter Hickman: “It’s been an awesome day and a massive thanks to the team as everything’s been spot on throughout. I’m obviously over the moon with a hat-trick of wins in what were extremely tough, close races and that’s always the case at the Ulster GP. To win a race here, you know you’ll have to fight all the way to the end and getting a break is near impossible. I tried my best to make a getaway in all of the races but it only really came off in the Superstock race when there were a few damp patches. I led most of the laps in most of the races and was happy to be out front and although we had a problem in the final race, we can’t be disappointed at all. It’s been a mega day’s racing so thanks again to the team, well done to Dean Harrison for winning his first International big bike race win and best wishes to the injured riders.”
Darren Jones, Crew Chief: “Peter’s been on fire all week and getting pole position in every class during qualifying and then the Dundrod 150 Superbike win on Thursday set him up nicely for today. He got things underway with a great win in the Superstock race and then possibly rode even better to win the first Supersport race. We knew Bruce would be strong in the Superbike race and although Peter could have had a go, he played it safe which was the right thing to do. Getting another Supersport win meant we only had one race left to negotiate but although we had a technical issue we can’t be disappointed with how the week’s gone and with four wins and a second it’s been a great meeting. The whole team and the bikes have been superb all week and we’re going home safe and now looking forward to hopefully taking some silverware at Cadwell Park and sealing our Showdown position in the MCE British Superbike Championship.”
Pictures courtesy of Jon Jessop Photography.