Roads: Harrison sets the early pace at Ulster GP

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Silicone Engineering Racing’s Dean Harrison set the early pace on the opening day of the Ulster Grand Prix, from Peter Hickman and Conor Cummins, with a 132.451mph lap.

After a delayed start caused by heavy showers, an incredibly busy first day of practice was overshadowed by an incident in the Superstock and Superbike practice session involving Derek McGee and Seamus Elliott.



In a practice session split into two halves, it was Harrison who laid down an early benchmark, with a lap speed in excess of 132mph. He was followed by Smith’s BMW’s Hickman, who was just 0.822 seconds behind him with a fastest lap time of 3:21.983 at a speed of 131.912mph. 

Third home was Manxman Cummins aboard the Padgett’s Honda Fireblade, with a fastest lap of 3:22.239 and an average speed of 131.745mph.

Finishing the session in fourth was Cookstown BE Racing’s Davey Todd, who was 4.349 seconds down on Harrison. The first and only Tyco BMW of David Johnson finished the session in fifth place with a speed of 129.605mph, 4.417 seconds off the pace. 

Close behind the Aussie was Honda Racing’s Lee Johnston, with a lap time of 3:25.767 ahead of Derek McGee. Paul Jordan, Sam West and Adam McLean completed the top-10.


The Superstock class saw Harrison and Hickman switch places, with Hickman going fastest with a time of 3:23.167, 2.419 seconds ahead of Harrison. Next up was fellow Kawasaki rider McGee, with the Suzuki of Todd again finishing in fourth place, 3.929 seconds back.

Following him was a duo of Hondas in the form of Padgett’s rider Cummins in fifth, 4.205 seconds back and Honda Racing’s Johnston in sixth, 4.253 seconds behind Hickman. 

Dafabet Devitt Racing’s Jordan made another appearance in the top ten in this class, finishing seventh with a time of 3:28.073. Rounding out the lead group was the Tyco BMW of Johnson, followed by McLean and Michael Sweeney in tenth.


The Supersport session saw Harrison once again topping the timing sheets, this time on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki ZX-6R. Harrison lapped at a speed of 125.438mph, with a lap time of 3:32.408. 

Crossing the line 0.398 seconds slower was the Honda CBR600RR of Cummins, followed by Hickman on the Smith’s Trooper Triumph Daytona 675R who was 1.027 seconds off Harrison’s best.

With a speed of 124.431mph, McGee finished the session fourth on the B&W Racing Kawasaki, with McAdoo Kawasaki Racing’s Mclean behind him, 3.413 seconds off Harrison’s time.

Next up was 2018 TT newcomer Todd on the Cookstown BE Racing Honda CBR600RR, who ended up 4.148 seconds back in sixth. Seventh and eighth were Darren and Daniel Cooper on their Kawasaki and Honda machinery, with Joey Thompson lapping at 121.378mph in ninth.

Finishing in tenth, and the only Yamaha inside the top-ten, was Sweeney on the MJR Racing R6, managing a lap speed of 121.152mph, 7.514 seconds slower than Harrison.  


In the Supertwin class it was McGee who lead the charge from McLean and Daniel Cooper on his KMR Kawasaki.

Crossing the line on his fifth lap with a time of 3:44.691 and a speed of 118.580mph, McGee was one of eight Kawasaki riders to finish in the top ten and was a whole 3.592 seconds faster than second place McLean and 4.578 seconds quicker than Cooper in third.

Christian Elkin secured fourth place, ahead of Dominic Herberston. Jonathan Perry was sixth fastest, with Shaun Anderson and Joey Thompson finishing seventh and eighth respectively. Rounding out the top ten were Sweeney and Ian Lougher.


The event kicked off with the Lightweight and Ultra-Lightweight machines, with Neil Kernohan setting the early pace in the Lightweight category on his Honda 250GP machine with a time of 4:04.859 and a speed of 108.813mph.

Kernohan was followed over the line by Stephen Morrison on the NAB Racing Kawasaki 400 and then the Padgett’s Motorcycles Honda 250, ridden by Lee Johnston. 

In the Ultra-Lightweight class, it was McGee at the top of the order aboard the Joey’s Bar MCC Honda Moto3 bike. Setting a time of 4:08.047 at a speed of 107.415mph on his fifth lap, he was followed closely by Elkin and Paul Robinson, who were also riding Moto3-spec Honda machinery.

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Dan Sutherland

By Dan Sutherland

Senior Writer (motorcycling), sportsbike nut, currently riding a FireBlade