Michael Dunlop has put down a marker after claiming pole position for the Superbike and Superstock races at the MCE Ulster Grand Prix.

Final practice at Dundrod on Thursday was delayed by more than three hours due to heavy mist but when the action finally got underway, Dunlop was the man who held sway on his BMW machines.

In the Superbike class, the Ballymoney rider swooped late in the session on the Hawk BMW to demote GBmoto Kawasaki's Peter Hickman to second place, lapping at 131.783mph to seal the top spot by 1.3 seconds.

Hickman, a Superbike winner at the Ulster Grand Prix last year, held on for second ahead of Bruce Anstey on the Valvoline Padgetts Honda RCV, who lapped at 130.220mph to earn a place on the front row.

Tyco BMW's Ian Hutchinson, who had led the session early on before slipping backwards, was fourth quickest followed by Dean Harrison on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki and Honda Racing's Conor Cummins.

Dublin rider Derek Sheils was seventh on the Burrows Suzuki ahead of Gary Johnson, who impressed by taking eighth on the East Coast/Burdens BMW after travelling to Northern Ireland as a late replacement for Lee Johnston, who has been ruled out of the event with a broken collarbone sustained in a spill on Wednesday.

William Dunlop (MMB Yamaha R1) and Mar-Train Racing's Dan Kneen rounded out the top ten.

The lengthy delays forced the organisers to shelve plans to run a Superpole qualifying session for the Superbike riders.

In the Superstock session, Dunlop led the way with a lap of 121.625mph in the damp on his MD Racing BMW from Sheils, who lapped at 120.779mph on the Shirlaw Kawasaki.

Steve Mercer, a replacement for injury victim Ivan Lintin in the Devitt RC Express Kawasaki team, was third fastest from team-mate Jamie Coward, who is filling in for Alan Bonner after he was hurt in a crash at the Southern 100.

Conor Cummins and Bruce Anstey completed the top six on the Valvoline Padgetts Honda machines, followed by last year's runner-up Hickman and Harrison.

Hutchinson was down in 15th place and has left himself a lot of work to do on Saturday if he is to repeat his Superstock wins at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT.


Loading Comments...