Peter Hickman believes there is every chance the MCE Ulster Grand Prix will be reinstated as the fastest road race in the world in August.
The Isle of Man TT took over the title in June after Hickman set the first ever 135mph lap around the Mountain Course, clocking a staggering average speed of 135.452mph on the final lap of the blue riband Senior race to wrestle victory away from Dean Harrison.
Last year, Bradford rider Harrison lapped Dundrod at 134.614mph on his Silicone Engineering Kawasaki as he finished third in the feature Superbike race, which was won by Bruce Anstey from Hickman, with Harrison completing the podium places.
The Smiths Racing rider was among the guests at the official launch of the 2018 MCE Ulster Grand Prix on Monday, with Harrison, Michael Dunlop, Lee Johnston, Conor Cummins, Davey Todd, Adam McLean, Joey Thompson and Dominic Herbertson also in attendance.
Hickman, now a two-time TT winner after he also edged a thrilling Superstock race last month, said: “There’s obviously a lot of talk about the Ulster off the back of the TT, and I’ve had to do a bit of grovelling to Noel about taking the lap record, but it is what it is.
“If we get weather like we did at the TT there’s a really good chance we’ll be bringing it back to Northern Ireland as it’s such a fast circuit.
“I’m really looking forward to Dundrod. The Smiths Racing BMW has been amazing and while BSB has got off to a slightly slower start, the road racing side of things has been really strong.
“The track time has been invaluable though and I’m really happy with what I’ve got and the people around me, and that’s what makes a big difference.”
Ireland’s oldest race will be held for the 96th time in 2018, with Bike Week taking place from August 5-11.
The famous international meeting was launched at Lagan Valley Island in Lisburn, kick-starting the countdown to the event in earnest.
A key change implemented this year means the Dundrod 150 meeting has been axed from the Thursday schedule.
Instead, an extended Ulster Grand Prix running order will take place, with four races scheduled for Thursday, August 9, following practice.
First up on the new-look programme will be a six-lap Supersport race followed by the Ultra-Lightweight/Lightweight race, a Supertwin race and a six-lap Superbike event to conclude the day’s action.
On Saturday, August 11, a 20-minute warm-up session will be held in the morning as part of new safety measures introduced this year, replacing the previous Superpole Superbike qualifying session. A seven-race schedule is planned for the Saturday bill.