The Ulster Grand Prix takes centre stage in the road racing calendar this week with the cream of the world’s top racers lining up at the famous 7.5-mile Dundrod circuit.
Ballyclare’s Jamie Hamilton says he fancies his chances as he competes in the Superbike, Supersport and Supertwin races.
The Times caught up with the KMR Vauxhall Dealers NI Kawasaki rider as he prepared for the weekend and it was easy to see just how much he is looking forward to the event.
“I’m feeling confident and I am riding well. I suppose it is my home race and there will be lots of people there supporting me and the team, but I don’t want to put myself under pressure. I always feel that if I go and enjoy myself the results will take care of themselves,” he said.
Although he has enjoyed success in all three classes, it’s in the Supertwins where he must fancy his chances of a race win. “It will not be easy even in the Supertwins as both Ivan Linton and Lee Johnston have very fast bikes. If it comes down to a last-lap race to the flag, I will certainly fancy my chances. I have every bit as much fight in my belly as the rest of them, so I wont be far away.”
The fierce rivalry between last year’s Superbike race contenders Michael Dunlop and Guy Martin will be renewed at the event.
Tyco Suzuki rider Martin, who won the feature race in 2012, will face even stiffer competition this time as four-times 2013 TT winner Dunlop will be making his final appearance of the season on the Honda TT Legends Superbike that carried him to his first big bike win on the Island in June.
Unfortunately John McGuiness will be missing from the action at Dundrod due to Honda TT Legends commitments, but no less than six of the 2013 TT’s podium finishers are included in the rest of the line-up. With Aussie Cameron Donald, William Dunlop, Manxman Conor Cummins, Bruce Anstey, Dean Harrison and Gary Johnson on the track it will be hot and heavy at the front.
Kiwi Anstey may be 43 years old but he is still the fastest man ever around Dundrod at 133.97mph lap, set in 2010. On his current 2013 form, I reckon Michael Dunlop will top that, weather permitting, come race day.
Dean Harrison could be the dark horse of the competition. Although not a factory rider, the Bradford lad is coming to Dundrod in peak form.
With this much quality in the starting line-up for the Ulster Grand Prix, picking a winner might be a bit of a lottery but the racing will be as fast and furious as ever on the world’s fastest road race circuit.