Smiths BMW’s Peter Hickman smashed the Ulster GP lap record on his way to the first Superbike race win at Dundrod this evening, putting in a 136.4mph lap to open a gap over second-placed man Dean Harrison on lap two.
It means the Ulster is now back as the fastest road race in the world as Hickman has surpassed his own Isle of Man TT outright lap record of 135.4mph, doing it using a standard S1000RR road engine.
Having unofficially broken the lap record in qualifying, the 32-year old made no mistake in the race and after shadowing Dean Harrison on the opening two laps, he pulled the pin on lap three to turn his 0.18s deficit into a 3.2s advantage by the end of the lap and he never looked back.
Harrison, second in qualifying on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki, grabbed the early lead and it was him that led at the end of the first lap with Hickman just 0.23s in arrears. It wasn’t just a two-horse race though as Conor Cummins (Milenco by Padgetts Honda) and Lee Johnston (Ashcourt Racing BMW) were in hot pursuit with just one second covering the quartet.
Davey Todd, after a troublesome qualifying, slotted into fifth ahead of Derek Sheils and David Johnson.
Second time around and there was still little to choose between the front four with Harrison leading Hickman by 0.18s and it was the latter that was quickest with a lap of 133.550mph. All of the front four riders lapped in excess of 133mph and had rapidly opened up a gap over the rest of the field.
It was the third lap though when history was made and having hit the front by the time they reached the Windmill, Hickman really pushed on in the final sector and as he flashed across the line the lead had soared to 3.22s. And little wonder – his lap of 3m15.316s was significantly quicker than Harrison’s previous best of 3m17.928s from 2017 and the speed of 136.415mph was almost 1mph up on the Louth-based rider’s lap record from the TT of 135.452mph.
With a clear track in front of him, Hickman could choose his own lines and, just like he had done in qualifying, he took full advantage of the clear road in front of him and as he started his fifth and final lap, the gap to Harrison had increased again to 5.68s as Hickman again lapped quicker than the old lap record.
Soon after, the red flag came out due to an incident at Quarry Bends and the result was declared with Hickman taking his seventh Ulster GP win as Harrison and Cummins completed the podium.
Johnston was the unlucky rider to miss out in fourth and whilst Todd took a relatively lonely fifth, David Johnson overhauled Sheils to claim sixth. Jamie Coward, Michael Sweeney and Brian McCormack completed the top ten.