Bruce Anstey is confident he will once again be in contention at the 2015 Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix, as the Kiwi looks to continue his stellar season at the final international meeting of the year this August.
The 45 year-old, who has already been on the podium at the North West 200 and TT in 2015, is also the reigning man of the meeting and lap record holder at Dundrod, and believes he will be in a great position to extend his fine form at the circuit.
Anstey said: “It’s my fifth year with Padgetts and my fifth year with the Fireblade so we know exactly where we are with the bikes.
“The superbike handles so well and we’ve been making improvements to the engine year on year. It’s a proven package really so we’re definitely in a good place.”
One of the most experienced riders in the paddock, Anstey has proven that age is no barrier as he continues to go from strength to strength.
The New Zealander has been on the podium at every international road race since 2002 and is the world’s fastest road racer, having set the lap record of 133.977mph around Dundrod in 2010.
“I didn’t think that record would last this long, but I can see it going this year. If it’s dry we’ve just got to smash it. I don’t know how fast we’ll go, but with the speeds we’ve been riding this season I’d say we’re in with a good shout.
“Even last year we weren’t far off in tricky conditions so on a good day it will definitely be broken.
Anstey mastered the challenging weather at Bike Week last August to claim two wins and the overall man of the meeting crown, and he’s hoping for a similar result when Bike Week roars into action from the 3rd – 8th August.
“Last year was really good, I haven’t had man of the meeting for about ten years but I’ve always felt really comfortable around the track. It would be great to have the title again and it’s always the aim.”
Anstey’s comments came as Lidl celebrate the fourth year of their partnership with the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix
Noel Johnston, Clerk of the Course at the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix said: “Bruce might be the most laid back man in the paddock but on his day there is nobody faster. His lap record is a testament to that and I’m sure he’ll be at the sharp end once again this year.
“It’s also fantastic to have Lidl back on board for a fourth year. Riders like Bruce are the star attractions at the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix but without the support of sponsors such as Lidl the event wouldn’t be the success that it is.
“Together we’re looking forward to another stellar Bike Week and if Bruce can up his lap record it might just be a historic one too.”
Plenty of others hoping to spoil Anstey’s party including Ian Hutchinson, Peter Hickman, Dean Harrison, Glenn Irwin, Dan Kneen and Paul Owen
An all-star line up including Ian Hutchinson, Glenn Irwin, Dean Harrison, Dan Kneen, Peter Hickman and Paul Owen were placed on ‘parole’ as they gave fans an exciting preview of what’s in store during Bike Week and discussed their seasons so far.
They are just a few of the leading names confirmed on the entry list, while the organisers also revealed a number of significant improvements around the circuit ahead of the 93rd Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix.
Noel Johnston, Clerk of the Course at the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix said: “The stage is once again set for some close racing and intense battles at Dundrod.
“Michael Dunlop will be determined to take his first international win of the season, while Tyco teammates Guy Martin and William Dunlop will also be hoping to finish their seasons on a high.
“It won’t be easy for them though, as last year’s man of the meeting Bruce Anstey looks faster than ever, and you’ll also have rising stars like Dean Harrison, Dan Kneen and Lee Johnston hungry for more wins.
“Plus there’s the resurgent Ian Hutchinson, who had an fantastic Isle of Man TT, alongside short circuit regulars Peter Hickman and Glenn Irwin, who have already shown that they are just as quick on the roads.”
Speaking at the launch, man of the moment Hutchinson said: “I’m really looking forward to the Ulster, it’s one of my favourite races and the one I’ve spent the longest away from with my injury.
“I’ve had some great results so far this year and I went well at Dundrod back in 2010, but I think I’m riding better than ever now. The target is to get back on the top step in all of my classes.
“It’s always really competitive at Dundrod though, so I know I’ll have to fight for it, but I’ve never been afraid of a fight before. I just can’t wait to get going.”
Another man feeling confident was Gearlink Kawasaki’s Glenn Irwin. The Carrick racer has three BSB rounds between now and Dundrod, but he feels the extra time on the bike will help his preparations for the Ulster Grand Prix.
Irwin said: “I know the bike and I’ve already won on it this season, so I’m really comfortable on the 600. Plus the Ulster really suits my style, as I can carry good corner speed and there are some great overtaking positions.
“I’m looking forward to getting back out on the roads, the Deer’s leap is incredible and nothing comes close to racing between the trees along the back of the circuit. I think we’ll be close to the front but we’ll just have to wait and see at Bike Week.”
Mar Train’s Dean Harrison, who narrowly missed out on his debut win in 2014 said: “We’re really looking forward to the Ulster, I think the track is going to suit the new R1 and I’ve always been quick there.
“We’re on the pace in the Supersport and even though we’ve had a few teething problems with the new R1 Superbike and Superstock machines I’m confident we’ll get it sorted in time for Dundrod.
“It just takes a little bit of time because it’s a brand new bike and we’re still learning the electronics, but come race day we’ll be in the mix.”
Fans of the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix can not only look forward to seeing Ian, Dean and co in action on track, but there will also be a whole host of entertainment taking place in the paddock when the racing stops.
Noel Johnston added: “From quizzes and classic bike displays to stunt shows and live music, there will be no shortage of entertainment, and the legendary Ulster Grand Prix atmosphere and ‘craic’ is not to be missed.
“We’ve also been busy upgrading lots of the facilities around the circuit, such as the grandstands and new camping areas, and construction work is now entering its final phase on David Wood Ulster Grand Prix House, so it’s easier than ever for fans to enjoy the racing.
We’d like to thank all of our sponsors for their support, particularly Metzeler, our title sponsor, and our event partners Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Aer Lingus, Lidl and Tourism NI.
“Not to mention all of our race sponsors, volunteers and fans.
“As Ian Hutchinson said, we can’t wait to get going, it’s going to be a good one.”
Ulster GP Bike Week 2015 will take place from August 3rd through 8th
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