Long-time MCE Ulster Grand Prix lap record holder Bruce Anstey believes a 135mph lap could be on the cards at Dundrod on Saturday.
The Flying Kiwi held the absolute record for the 7.4-mile Dundrod course from 2010 until last year, when his 133.977mph benchmark was finally surpassed by Ian Hutchinson, who lifted the bar to 134.089mph on the Tyco BMW.
Unfortunately, Hutchy will miss the world’s fastest road race this year as he recovers from a serious ankle injury following a crash in the Senior TT.
However, Anstey expects the pace to be every bit as hot if dry conditions prevail this weekend, with Michael Dunlop, Peter Hickman, Dan Kneen and Dean Harrison all bringing impressive form into the last of the ‘big three’ major international meetings of 2017.
Anstey, who returns on the Padgetts Honda RC213V-S, said: “Right conditions, we’ll be pushing each other and pushing 135mph I reckon. I’d really like to have the record back to be honest, but we’ll see what happens. I’ll be trying.”
The 48-year-old – on hand to announce Around-A-Pound’s continued sponsorship of the second Superbike race – is going back to his roots this week as he prepares to make his Dundrod debut in the two-stroke class on a Honda RS250, which he will again ride at the Classic TT later this month.
“I’ve got a good chance on everything really, and this is the first time I’ve run a 250 around here so I’m looking forward to that.
“It’ll be pretty much flat out everywhere and it’s going to be good fun to ride, but the 600 is good as well,” added Anstey, who is aiming to make amends for a below-par North West 200 and TT.
“At the North West I just struggled to get going and it was the same at the Isle of Man. Then in the Senior we got up into the top five and the bike let go.
“The season has been pretty rubbish, but I don’t really feel any pressure here. I just want to ride well, give it 100 per-cent and see how we get on.”
Ulster GP Clerk of the Course Noel Johnston has watched many of the greats light up Dundrod and knows only too well that Anstey, who falls into that elite bracket, can never be written off.
“It’s been a bit of a tough year for Bruce so far, but you’d be crazy to bet against him at Dundrod. He can pull a little bit extra out of the bag when he needs to and I think with the extra incentive of the lap record he’ll be in the mix for sure,” he said.
“One thing that you can guarantee though is that he’ll be one of the best-sounding competitors out there, as between the RC213V-S and the RS250, it’s going to be fantastic for the fans. I can’t wait to see what he can do in every class.”