Roads: Bad weather disrupts opening races at Ulster GP
After hours of delays due to bad weather, Thursday afternoon’s racing schedule at the Ulster Grand Prix eventually kicked off at around 6.30pm.
Racing was set to start around the 7.4011-mile course between 3.30pm and 4pm, however after just one lap of the opening Supersport fixture it was red-flagged, after the heavens opened and it was deemed unsafe to ride.
After being sent back out, only to be told to return to the paddock when the rain started again, racing eventually kicked-off with the five-lap Supertwin race. It was a contest marred by mixed conditions, with riders forced to head out on wets, despite the track being dry in some places.
Thursday's Superbike race was eventually cancelled, after running out of daylight.
After a race long battle between Adam McLean and Christian Elkin, it was McLean on the Roy Hanna Motors Kawasaki who eventually finished on top with a gap of 5.716 seconds.
They were followed over the line 38.384 seconds later by Ian Lougher on the Team ILR Kawasaki, marking his first return to the Dundrod circuit for five years with a podium finish after a three-way race-long scrap with Michael Sweeney and Davey Todd.
After earlier delays, it was the Supersport race that followed, with Manxman Conor Cummins taking a comfortable victory aboard the Padgett’s Racing Honda CBR600RR, with a best lap of 3:32.149 at a speed of 125.591mph.
After some last-minute tyre changes to suit the drying-but-damp conditions, Cummins was able to pull a hefty 8.177 second lead over second place finisher and Supertwin winner Adam McLean, who held his own against a pursuing Dean Harrison on the Silicone Engineering Racing Kawasaki ZX-6R, who ended up a further 5.031 seconds back with a best time of 3:32.888.
With the roads remaining damp in places, but too dry to run wet tyres, riders were forced to race on treaded, dry weather rubber – leading to some riders like Smiths Racing’s Peter Hickman slightly lowering their pace and erring on the side of caution.
Hickman eventually crossed the line in a lonely fifth place with a one lap gap, behind Davey Todd, who was 15.668 seconds behind Cummins.
In the dying stages of the daylight, it was the turn of the Lightweight and Ultra-Lightweight bikes. Despite temperatures dropping, the track was now dry enough for riders to run slicks, in a reduced grid layout that saw just three two-strokes make the start.
In the Lightweight class, a fastest lap of 3:57.580 and a gap of 8.175 seconds was enough to give Neil Kernohan the victory on the Logan Racing Honda 250, ahead of fellow Honda pilot Shaun Anderson, who finished the race with an average lap speed of 110.121mph.
Third to cross the finish line was the 400 Kawasaki of Darryl Tweed for M&D Racing. Tweed was 29.344 seconds off the win.
Swtiching two-stroke for four-stroke, it was again a Honda 250 rider that claimed victory in the Ultra-Lightweight class. Moto3 rider Elkin crossed the linea whole 31.617 seconds ahead of fellow Moto3 rider Michal Dokoupil.
Crossing the line behind them in the final glimpses of the light was the Honda 250 of Nigel Moore, with a total time of 21:43.097.
Check back on Saturday for more race results from the Ulster Grand Prix.
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