Michael Dunlop got off the mark in the Superbike class at Dundrod with a stylish victory on his Hunts Motorcycles/McAdoo Honda today.
The 23-year-old from Ballymoney beat Tyco Suzuki star Guy Martin in the Superbike race at the Dundrod 150 national meeting, which serves as a warm-up to Saturday's main event.
Dunlop's prospects of winning all five feature races on Saturday have been the focus of much hype in the build-up to the Ulster Grand Prix.
And his confident performance appears to have enhanced his chances of equalling Ulster road racing hero Phillip McCallen's record of five wins in a day in 1996.
Dunlop claimed a hat-trick at the event last year in the Supersport and Superstock races and is now the big race favourite after he laid down a marker at the fastest road race circuit in the world this evening.
He took the win by 2.3 seconds after the race was red-flagged on the fifth lap due an incident at Rock Bends.
The Ballymoney man set the only 133mph lap of the 2012 Ulster Grand Prix so far at 133.379mph on his third lap to edge away from Martin.
Manx rider Conor Cummins, who started the race from pole, led briefly on the opening lap before Dunlop hit the front.
He quickly made a break and when Martin moved into second place and looked to be making some headway on lap two, Dunlop turned the screw to record the fastest lap of the race and repel the Suzuki star's challenge.
The 23-year-old was increasing his advantage when the red flags came out on lap five.
The organisers declared the race a result based on positions at the end of lap three of the scheduled six-lap distance.
Cummins took third behind Dunlop and Martin, with Padgetts Honda duo Gary Johnson and Bruce Anstey fourth and fifth respectively.
Ulsterman Stephen Thompson, who impressed on the BMW S1000RR during practice, sealed a superb sixth place finish on the count-back with William Dunlop, who made a terrible start on Wilson Craig's Honda, finishing seventh.
Adrian Archibald, newcomer Dean Harrison and Ian Lougher completed the first ten.