Bruce Anstey takes Ulster GP double
Despite intermittent rain throughout the day around the 7.4 mile circuit, the 2014 Meteler Ulster Grand Prix saw Dan Kneen take victory in the Superstock race with Dean Harrison in second, while Ivan Lintin dominated the Supertwin race. The man of the meeting though was New Zealander Bruce Anstey, with victory in both Supersport and Superbike aboard the Padgett’s Honda. The ever popular Guy Martin also enjoyed podium finishes in the Supersport and Superbike races after taking victory in the Dundrod 150 on Thursday.
The opening Superstock race was stopped on the second lap due to rain. Getting underway for a five lap restart, Cookstown B.E. Racing rider Dan Kneen and RC Express Kawasaki rider Dean Harrison traded places throughout the race eventually crossing the line separated by just 0.001s, giving Kneen his first International road race victory.
Having grabbed the lead on the opening lap, Dean, Kneen and Bruce Anstey were never more than half a second apart with positions changing all the time and on each and every lap.
The lead changed hands on no less than five occasions on the final lap but Kneen’s intermediate tyres were helping him be stronger on the final third of the circuit, from the hairpin to the start and finish. Indeed, Dean re-took the lead on the final lap at the hairpin only for Kneen to close in on the run to the line and they flashed across the start and finish line side by side with an anxious wait for the timekeeper’s verdict. It went to Kneen but the result was still Dean’s, and the team’s, best ever result at the Ulster GP.
However, from the high of a rostrum came the season’s low in the following Supersport race when Dean, riding the Mar-Train Racing Yamaha, crashed heavily at Ireland’s with, ironically, Kneen also going down. The race was subsequently red flagged with Dean taken to hospital in Belfast where he is receiving treatment for a number of injuries including a broken wrist, dislocated shoulder and four broken ribs.
Speaking about the event, Dan commented, “Up until the Supersport race, I’d been having a great Ulster GP and the Superstock win was the icing on the cake. I was happy with the speeds in qualifying and had good grid positions but the Superstock race was unbelievably close and Dean was quicker in some places and I was quicker in others so neither of us could ever get a good run. It must have been great to watch as we were swapping positions all the time but it was tricky as some parts were dry, some damp and some soaking. There wasn’t a right tyre to use so you just had to ride to the conditions. My plan was to be ahead going into the hairpin and then make a break but I overshot which allowed Dean by although it all worked out in the end.
“I tried to pass him in a couple of places before the end but in the end I just had to go for it on the final bend. It couldn’t have been any closer but I was over the moon to get my first International win. I went from a massive high to a major low less than an hour later though but I literally had nowhere to go. I was ahead of Dean and Keith at Leathemstown only for them to out-drag me along Deer’s Leap and when I saw the pair of them go down, I knew I was going to go down too and ploughed straight into all the bikes. I think the foot peg went through my boot causing the damage and although it’s only one bone, I seem to have made a good job of it. I’ve just got to wait now on the diagnosis and concentrate on getting fixed up and taking it all from there.”
The spill and resulting injury have brought an early end to Dan’s season, a year in which he’s contested the Irish National road races, rather than the British Championship, with devastating effect. The now 27-year old took no less than 6 Grand Final wins and comfortably won both the Irish and Ulster Superbike Road Race Championships.
“I didn’t know what to expect going into the season as all the circuits were new to me and with not much practice at any of the meetings, I had an awful lot of learning to do. I did plenty of laps in the van at all of the circuits and having John (Burrows) running the team, it meant there was always someone to chat to as he knew all of the meetings inside out. I really enjoyed all of them and they were all challenging and in different ways so it was very different to the British Championship meetings I’ve been used to in recent years.”
“The competition kept me on my toes all year with the likes of Derek Sheils and Derek McGee very quick whilst some meetings also saw the Dunlops and Guy Martin on the entry. I grabbed plenty of race wins along the way, getting the better of practically all of them so with two major Championship wins it couldn’t have worked out any better. It’s obviously a shame the crash happened when it did as we could have had even more top class results but that’s racing. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the year so a big thank you to everyone involved and for all their support.”
Dan still hopes to be fit for November’s Macau Grand Prix and has provisionally pencilled in the meeting for his return to racing.
In what was to be the only Supersport race of the day, also re-started after a first lap stoppage, it was the Tyco Suzuki of William Dunlop who took the early lead, with Bruce Anstey in close contention. With the pair pulling away from the chasing pack, a cruel twist of fate saw Dunlop forced into retirement with less than half a lap remaining, gifting the win to Anstey. Dunlop’s team mate and fan favourite Guy Martin picked up third place.
In the first Superbike race, Martin continued where he left of on Thursday by storming into the lead. Holding a narrow advantage over Anstey, the two traded positions over the final two laps. Despite being able to pull out a slender lead on the final circulation Martin was caught behind a backmarker, allowing Anstey to close up and pass the Tyco Suzuki star to take victory.
With another red flag interruption on the opening lap and with the weather continuing to worsen, the second Supersport race was cancelled.
The Supertwins were able to get out for their race which saw a dominating victory from Ivan “Lightening” Lintin, who crossed the line to take the win by 14.394s. His second impressive victory in the class in as many years. As torrential rain began at the conclusion of the race, the organisers had no option but to cancel the final Superbike race.
Peter Hickman posted some excellent results on his debut, which included becoming the fastest ever newcomer at the event after a lap of over 131mph.
Peter Hickman: “It’s been another really good and enjoyable meeting for me and I’m delighted with the results and to pick up the ‘Best Newcomer’ award again. I made a bit of a mistake on Thursday and crashed out, making a real mess of the bike, but the team did wonders to get me back out in time for the races whilst Steve Hicken and Michael Dunlop helped me out with various parts. The bike felt exactly the same as it did before the crash and to get seventh and lap at more than 131mph in the Dundrod 150 race was really pleasing given the state the bike was in a few hours earlier.
“It was a lot tougher on Saturday with the poor weather, which was unfortunate for everyone, as it made both riding and tyre choice tricky. I was over the moon with a pair of fifths though, especially in the Superbike race, and I’ve really enjoyed my first time at Dundrod. Shoey and the whole team have been mega and they did a mint job all week so it’s nice to repay them with some good results.”
French racer Pierre Favre was injured after an incident during the Lightweight race at the Dundrod 150 and is currently in a critical condition at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.
2014 Ulster Grand Prix Resuts
- Dan Kneen
- Dean Harrison 0.001secs
- Bruce Anstey 0.109
- Stephen Thompson 15.441
- Peter Hickman 15.832
- Guy Martin 17.569
- James Cowton
- John Ella
- Ian Morrell
- Trevor Reid
- John McAllister
- Daley Mathison
- Christian Elkin 0.228
- Paul Jordan 44.015
- William Cowden 44.219
- Craig Gibson 1:12.440
Supersport Race 1
- Bruce Anstey
- Lee Johnston 6.439
- Guy Martin 18.756
- Ivan Lintin 39.421
- James Cowton 43.193
Superbike Race 1
- Bruce Anstey
- Guy Martin 0.260
- Lee Johnston 4.829
- Michael Dunlop 7.421
- Peter Hickman 45.290
- Ivan Lintin
- Derek McGee 14.394
- James Cowton 23.254
- Christian Elkin 34.081
- Connor Behan 46.372
Ulster Grand Prix Behind The Scenes Episode One
Ulster Grand Prix Behind The Scenes Episode Two
Ulster Grand Prix Behind The Scenes Episode Three
Ulster Grand Prix Behind The Scenes Episode Four
Ulster Grand Prix Behind The Scenes Episode Five