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UGP: Johnson adds extra dimension
9 August 2012
English raider Gary Johnson adds an extra dimension to the Ulster Grand Prix after his appearance at the Dundrod meeting was confirmed last week.
Johnson will ride in the Superbike and Supersport classes on Clive Padgett's Hondas, teaming up with New Zealand's Bruce Anstey.
The Lincolnshire rider made a breakthrough at the Isle of Man TT last year, claiming his first success on the Mountain Course in the Supersport class.
Johnson joined the Honda TT Legends team for 2012 but was left out of the line-up for this weekend's round of the Endurance World Championship at Oschersleben in Germany and will be determined to brush aside the disappointment by making amends at the Ulster GP.
He is without an international victory on the roads this year but that could easily change on Saturday, when Johnson poses a big threat on both machines.
The 30-year-old posted the sixth fastest time during opening practice on Wednesday, lapping the 7.4-mile circuit at 128.065mph.
He was fifth quickest on the Honda CBR6000RR at 123.654mph and again holds serious podium prospects in the middleweight class.
Johnson made it onto the rostrum in third place in the Superstock race at last year's Ulster GP and will lock horns with a quality international line-up that includes Ulster's Michael Dunlop – a hat-trick winner in 2011 – plus his brother William on the Craig Honda machines and Tyco Suzuki duo Guy Martin and Conor Cummins.
Quiet man Anstey showed at the TT that he remains as competitive as ever and will be aiming for a repeat of his Superbike success at Dundrod 12 months ago.
Veteran Ian Lougher has top-six prospects, although Aussie David Johnson has been forced to miss the event through injury.
Johnson was due to ride Kawasaki machines for Cookstown team McAdoo Racing but was injured while competing in the World Superbike meeting at Silverstone last weekend.
Ryan Farquhar has confirmed that he will compete in the Superbike and Supertwin classes, but the KMR Kawasaki man will sit out the Superstock and Supersport events.
Farquhar will go head to head with team-mate and young protégé Jamie Hamilton in the Supertwin races, with the first showdown taking place as part of today's Topaz Dundrod 150.
Hamilton crashed while battling for the lead of the race with his team boss at Armoy and his chances of riding in the 650cc races at the Ulster Grand Prix suffered a setback due to the damage sustained by his ER6 in the incident.
However, the bike has been repaired in time and the Ballyclare lad will attempt to put one over on Farquhar following his superb triumph in the class at the Southern 100 on the Isle of Man last month.
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