Last Saturday was our first time at the Ulster GP. The Ulster GP starts on Wednesday with Practice, follows on Thursday with the so-called “Dundrod 150”, and finally on Saturday are the “big races” as Ulster GP. As we couldn’t take any day off, we left on Friday after work and arrived in Belfast around 9pm.
As we didn’t know the circuit nor knew how it worked to pay an so, and we didn’t have anything booked, we woke up early on Saturday. We shouldn’t have worried because it is organised much like the national Road Races. I mean that you can pay your ticket where they close the road, and BUY A PROGRAM. It costed 25£ per person (includes Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday) and the program 5£. We arrived around 8h am, found a car park close to the paddock, not quite cheap but very well situated.
Our friend Mark from Skerries had sent us a map of the circuit with several good view points to watch the races.
After parking the car we went tot the paddock. There were so many teams that it was difficult to find the “small” ones. We tried to find Yvonne Montgomery, without success.
We had a look around the big teams also, and met with the nice couple we had known in Armoy during the NorthWest 200, and also got across Baylon, the photographer of Irish race photography. The truth is that the world of Road Races is a small one, and as a big family. We have only been to a dozen of races and every time we meet with known persons (who remember us also). I love it.
When we were leaving the paddock we also went across Mark from Skerries, and then went to The Quarries, one of the points he had recommended. We were lucky enough to find a spot just behind the fence. It is better to arrive early enough if you want to get a good spot, mainly if you want to take pictures.
It was sunny that day but the temperature was quite low for being August… well, something quite usual in Ireland in general.
After a short while they closed the road and the day started with the races: Superstock, Supersport, Ultralightweight/Lightweight (125/Moto3, 250GP, 400 & 450cc). There was also a Superpole and a parade lap with Bruce Anstey with the la YZR 500 (there is no graphic proof of that, he was too fast lol).
For the first 2 races the big screen in front of us didn’t work. Then it got fixed.
Then the day proceeded with Superbike, Supersport, Supertwin and Superbike final races.
Hutchy & Dan Kneen
Hutchy, Dan Kneen, Michael Dunlop
Bruce Anstey & Michael Dunlop
Dani Cooper & Bruce Anstey
Fabrice Miguet – MIG
Most of the races were quite close racing, with many overtakings. It was quite amazing to see them on the Quarries bend. The day went by without any major incident and with a new circuit record by Ian Hutchinson who did a 134.089mph lap (the previous record was by Bruce Anstey who did 133.977mph in 2010).
It was definitely Hutchy’s day as he won 4 races: the 2 Superbike races, 1 Supersport race and the Superstock race.
There was another record broken by Patricia Fernández (from USA) for the fastest woman rider at UlsterGP, with an average speed of 118.264mph in Supersport.
The previous record was held by Maria Costello, who was racing in Superstock and Supertwin.
There were other women: Veronika Hancocyova (Czech Republic) in Lightweight and Supertwin, Melissa Kennedy in Moto3, Yvonne Montgomery in Lightweight, and Sarah Boyes in Ultralightweight (I have no picture of her)
We stayed at the same fence all day. The truth is that it was a good point to see some good race action, take pictures and follow the race on the big screen (when it started working).
It was over around 5.00pm (actually with a red flag), the truth is that the races were quite intense and thrilling, and even with some breaks between races, the day went by very fast.
We had a great experience at the Ulster GP, as it is the same family atmosphere and organisation as the National ones, adding the best racers together, on a longer and faster track (the fastest).
The truth is that next year it will be difficult to chose between Armoy and the UlsterGP! There are only 15 days between the 2 and it is difficult to go to both… we’ll see!
This year unfortunately the UlsterGP was the last road race of the year in Ireland, as the Loughshinny Club announced they cancelled Killalane Road Race which used to close the season mid-September.
It’s a pity, we hope they will solve the problems and will come back stronger next year, with Skerries and Killalane.
This is it for our 2016 road racing season, See you in 2017 and beyond!