Peter Hickman romped to his third victory at this year’s Ulster Grand Prix when he dominated proceedings in a heavily delayed Superstock race on Saturday afternoon.
Heavy rain and mist in the morning meant it was 12.45pm before any track activity took place but when racing did get underway, the Smiths Racing BMW rider disappeared into the distance to eventually win by 24.2s from Davey Todd with Conor Cummins in third.
“I made a good clean start and got my head down from the beginning and was quite surprised at how dry it was on the first lap,” said Hickman afterwards.
It was a race of two halves though as places like Cochranstown, Quarterlands and Wheelers were still wet so I kept on the wet stuff to keep the tyres cool. Davey kept me honest in the first couple of laps but then I had a bit of a go on lap three and pulled clear. It started to rain again on the last lap but both the BMW and Dunlop tyres were mint.”
Hickman grabbed the lead the minute the lights went green but it was a disaster for fellow front row starters Lee Johnston who dropped all the way back to tenth whilst Jamie Coward, fourth in qualifying, pulled in at the end of the warm-up lap.
Hickman’s lead over Todd on the Penz13.com BMW at the end of the first lap was only half a second as Dean Harrison slotted into third but as soon as he crossed the line he sat up and raised his hand to retire. It was close for fourth, meanwhile, as Michael Sweeney, David Johnson, Derek Sheils and Cummins were locked in battle.
Second time around and Hickman doubled his advantage and it was now Johnson on the Honda that was in third with Cummins moving into fourth ahead of Sheils, Sweeney and the recovering Johnston. Michael Dunlop, who started from the second wave, was up to eighth.
On lap three, Hickman pulled the pin and a lap of 122.830mph, the fastest of the race, saw his lead jump to five seconds but further back, Cummins overhauled fellow Honda rider Johnson through Quarry Bends to move up to third. The battle for fourth continued to rage though with Johnston continuing to move forward.
The final two laps saw Hickman extend his advantage considerably as he lapped more than five seconds a lap quicker than Todd but the latter had a comfortable gap over Cummins and was able to ease off. The Manxman had left the group behind him as just half a second covered Johnston, Johnson, Sheils and Sweeney.
Hickman duly took the chequered flag for his third win of the week, and ninth UGP win in total, with Todd taking his first UGP podium in second. Cummins again finished third with Johnston rueing what might have been as he took fourth.
Sheils, Johnson and Sweeney were close behind with Dunlop taking eighth ahead of David Jackson and Brian McCormack.
Jamie Coward pulled in at the end of the warm up lap as one ofJohnston’s knee sliders came off, went through his screen and hit him in the chest…