Ulster GP: Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison set to renew rivalry at Dundrod

Peter Hickman was the man of the meeting at the Ulster Grand Prix in 2017 following a Superstock and Supersport treble.
Peter Hickman was the man of the meeting at the Ulster Grand Prix in 2017 following a Superstock and Supersport treble.

Peter Hickman expects another blistering battle at next month’s MCE Ulster Grand Prix with Dean Harrison after the pair were involved in an epic showdown in the Senior TT.

Hickman set the first ever 135mph lap to become the world’s fastest road race on the final lap, edging out Harrison to claim the biggest prize in road race on the Isle of Man.

Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison with Ulster Grand Prix Clerk of the Course, Noel Johnston, and Superbike race sponsor Eugene McManus (MMB Surfacing).

Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison with Ulster Grand Prix Clerk of the Course, Noel Johnston, and Superbike race sponsor Eugene McManus (MMB Surfacing).

The British Superbike rider’s sensational lap established the TT as the fastest road race in the world, but Hickman would have preferred to have won at a slower speed.

However, he joked that he has no-one to blame but himself after advising Harrison to compete in more BSB rounds to enhance his performance on the roads – a strategy that seems to have paid off for the Bradford man in 2018.

Smiths BMW rider Hickman said: “Obviously I had my first win at the North West this year and followed this up with a host of firsts at the TT, the highlight of which was achieving a new lap record in the Senior class.

“The aim is always to win at the slowest pace possible but Dean was flying and 135mph was the only speed I could do to secure the win.

“A few years ago I told Dean that if he wanted to get faster he needed to come to the BSBs. It’s a faster style of racing, with top level riders, bikes and teams and I think if you can ride at the BSBs you can ride anywhere.

“In hindsight I wish I’d never mentioned it to him… he’s been giving me grief ever since!”

Hickman was named man of the meeting at Dundrod last year following a treble, winning both Supersport races and the Superstock event.

He lost out on victory in the feature Superbike race by 0.2 seconds to Bruce Anstey and retired from race two – won by Harrison – although he did clinch a Superbike success on the Dundrod 150 race day, which has been replaced this year by an extended UGP programme.

Harrison, who holds the lap record for the 7.4-mile Dundrod course at 134.614mph, will come into the last of the ‘big three’ international road races as one of the favourites, but the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki rider is taking nothing for granted.

“Lap records are there to be broken but with race wins your name is forever etched on that trophy and cannot be taken away from you,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to getting out there but I’m definitely not counting my chickens. There are at least 10 other riders who all have a chance at that podium and based on how well the teams are all performing it won’t be easy out there.”

Clerk of the Course Noel Johnston added: “Both riders have had an incredible year to date and are returning to the Dundrod circuit confident and with a plethora of race wins under their belt.

“They are both at the top of their game, which will no doubt make for some very exciting, and edge-of-your-seat racing for fans.

“We have two days of international racing this year, with 11 races taking place across the Thursday and Saturday. There are over 100 riders participating and it promises to be the perfect climax to the international road racing season.”

Practice takes place from Wednesday, August 8, with final qualifying and the first Ulster GP races on Thursday, August 9, whetting the appetite for the main race programme on Saturday, August 11.

Admission wristbands can be purchased now via www.ulstergrandprix.net.