Peter Hickman lapped half a second inside the outright lap record in qualifying for the Superbike race at the Ulster Grand Prix with a lap of 134.969mph putting him a comfortable 2.49s ahead of Dean Harrison.
Leading on the road, the Smiths Racing BMW rider disappeared into the distance as he put in eight laps in succession at the head of the field, including his out lap, and with five of those at more than 134mph, he’ll go into the races as the clear favourite.
Harrison opened with a lap of 131.303mph on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki before upping the pace to 132.729mph second time around and although he eventually recorded a speed of 133.287mph, he couldn’t get close to arch rival Hickman.
With good, dry conditions all around the 7.4-mile course, the battle for third was a lot closer and although Conor Cummins (Milenco by Padgetts Motorcycles Honda) ultimately prevailed, a late lap by Lee Johnston on the Ashcourt Racing BMW of 131.895mph saw him close to within 0.131s of the Manxman.
It was equally close for fifth as Derek Sheils (Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Suzuki) and David Johnson (Honda Racing) exchanged positions on a number of occasions and they were the final two riders to break the 130mph barrier, Sheils taking fifth with 130.626mph just ahead of Johnson’s 130.311mph mark.
Privateer Phil Crowe put in a strong lap of 129.342mph to claim seventh ahead of the leading Yamaha of Jamie Coward but Michael Dunlop could only manage ninth place, some 8.8s adrift of pole setter Hickman. Brian McCormack completed the top ten.
Davey Todd only managed two laps on the Penz13.com BMW, the quickest at 127.215mph, before returning to the pits and although he went back out after a lengthy stop, he only got as far as Quarterlands before retiring.