Tyco BMW’s Ian Hutchinson won the feature Ulster Grand Prix Superbike race on Saturday afternoon when he edged out Bruce Anstey by 0.274s on the final lap. The duo had been locked in battle for the entire race, with Michael Dunlop and Peter Hickman also involved along the way, but Hutchinson hit the front on the sixth and penultimate lap and with backmarkers coming into play, he had enough of a gap on the final lap to prevent Anstey from finding a way by.
It was Peter Hickman who got the holeshot as they left the line but Anstey soon moved to the front and it was he that led at the end of the opening lap from Hutchinson, Hickman, Michael Dunlop, Cummins, Kneen, Harrison and Johnson with Anstey’s lead 0.345s.
Second time around and the front four were beginning to edge away from the fifth place battle but Anstey still led, albeit by the reduced margin of 0.126s. Hutchinson was still in second but had lapped at 133.471mph to close the gap as Hickman and Dunlop maintained station in third and fourth. Cummins was still holding onto fifth from Kneen, Harrison and Gary Johnson who later retired.
On the third lap, it was Hickman who was fastest, lapping just outside the outright lap record at 133.892mph and there was just 1.2s between the quartet as Kneen, Cummins and Harrison continued to dispute fifth.
Changes started to happen on the fourth lap though and Hutchinson grabbed the lead for the first time along the Flying Kilo with Dunlop moving past Hickman on the drop down Deer’s Leap. Only 0.6s covered the four riders at the end of the lap and Anstey retook the lead at the top of Deer’s Leap but Hickman’s race ended soon after with retirement at Wheelers.
Backmarkers were now coming into play and on the penultimate lap, Hutchinson got back by Anstey on the high speed run through Jordan’s Cross and he then had the better run through the backmarkers from the hairpin back to the Grandstand. His lead was up to 0.8s going into the final lap and he again put some tailenders between Anstey and himself on the run up to Deer’s Leap which looked like it had given him the gap he needed.
Anstey wasn’t giving up though and by the time they got to Wheeler’s, he had a clear road in front of him and was eating into Hutchinson’s lead. He was right with him at the hairpin but with overtaking opportunities scarce between there and the Grandstand, it was Hutchinson who got the verdict for his seventh UGP win.
Dunlop fared worst with the backmarkers and was three seconds adrift at the flag in third as Cummins saw off Harrison and Kneen for fourth. William Dunlop came through for seventh ahead of Steve Mercer, Derek Sheils and Derek McGee.