Peter Hickman completed his hat-trick at Saturday’s Ulster Grand Prix when he won the second Supersport race on the Trooper Beer/Smiths Triumph but only after a race long battle with Bruce Anstey, Lee Johnston and Michael Dunlop, the trio crossing the line in Hickman’s wheel tracks.
“I tried to get away again but it wasn’t to be so when Lee came by I knew where I had to try and get back past him,” Hickman said afterwards. “I should have done that move on Bruce in the Superbike race but I wasn’t quite close enough and although it was a tight move on Lee, there was enough room to do it on this occasion.”
After the original race was halted due to an incident at the hairpin, it was Hickman who led at the end of the first lap of the re-start, his advantage over Dunlop 0.630s with Padgetts Honda team-mates Johnston and Anstey in third and fourth.
The gap was down slightly at the end of lap two, 0.516s, and Anstey was now up to third. The front four had opened up a sizeable gap over the rest of the field and it was James Cowton (McAdoo Kawasaki) who was up into fifth ahead of impressive newcomer Joey Thompson (ILR Kawasaki).
At half race distance Hickman still led but the gap was down again to 0.329s and it was Anstey who was now in second, the Kiwi having overhauled Dunlop at Deer’s Leap. The battle for fifth was raging though with no less than seven riders involved and whilst Cowton still led the freight train, Paul Jordan was now in sixth.
The race at the front of the field had now developed into a four-horse race as Johnston reeled the leading trio back in and going into the penultimate lap, only 0.9s covered them. Going along the Flying Kilo there were changes too as Anstey took the lead and Johnston moved up into third.
Hickman got back into the lead on the run towards Wheelers but with just one lap to go, the race was still wide open as there was still only a second covering the quartet. Jordan had moved up again to fifth with Jamie Coward in sixth but Davey Todd’s good ride ended as he retired from 11th.
Johnston moved ahead of Anstey half way round the lap and the Ulsterman led going into Wheeler’s only for Hickman to put in a hard move which made Johnston sit up slightly. It gave him the gap he needed and although Anstey got back up to second he ran out of time and had to settle for second.
Johnston and Dunlop followed them home with Jordan getting the verdict for fifth ahead of Coward, Christian Elkin, Dan Cooper, Cowton and Thompson.
Dean Harrison had to pull off the grid after getting a stone through the radiator on the original warm-up lap while Conor Cummins also missed the race to rest his injured wrist.