Bruce Anstey took a scintillating feature Ulster Grand Prix Superbike race on Saturday afternoon when he finally stopped Peter Hickman’s dominance of this year’s event. The Kiwi took his first win on the Padgetts Honda RCV-213 by 0.272s with Hickman in second and Dean Harrison third, the latter having the consolation of a new outright lap record, 134.614mph.
“We’ve waited a long time to win on the RCV but it’s an awesome bike and Clive (Padgett) has put together a great package so it’s great to finally do it,” Anstey said. “The bike’s got a long first gear so you have to be careful with the clutch off the line so I was back down in fifth to begin with but I got my head down and gradually got to the front. It was an awesome race with Hickman and on the final lap I kept seeing a front wheel here and there so it was tight finish.”
Hickman again made the best start out of all of the front row and led along the Flying Kilo and into Leathemstown from Conor Cummins and Harrison with his lead at the end of the first lap being 0.239s over the Manxman. Dan Kneen had moved up to third with Anstey in fifth and Derek Sheils sixth.
Cummins briefly took over the lead on the run to Leathemstown before Hickman hit back and the duo were nose to tail throughout the lap, the gap between the duo heading into lap three still only 0.183s. Anstey was up to third though and little wonder as he’d set a new outright lap record of 134.235mph. Kneen and Harrison were still close but Michael Dunlop was now seven seconds adrift in sixth.
At the head of the field it had turned into a three-way battle for the lead as Anstey overhauled his team-mate for second. At the end of lap three, Hickman continued to lead but Anstey had gone quicker again at 134.396mph and he took the lead along the Flying Kilo. Kneen and Harrison had also broken the 134mph barrier to make it a five-rider scrap for the win.
With four laps to gone, Anstey led across the line with a gap to Hickman of 0.294s as Cummins began to come under extreme pressure from Kneen and Harrison. Indeed, only one second covered the top five and it was Harrison who was now quickest at 134.614mph despite still only being in fifth place.
He moved up into third on lap five as Anstey increased his lead over Hickman to 0.426s and although Kneen was now in fifth he was only a second adrift of the race leader. Sheils remained in sixth but was now over ten seconds adrift.
On the penultimate lap, Hickman moved back ahead of Anstey at Wheelers but going into the seventh and final lap, it was still anyone’s race as still only a second covered the quintet.
However, Hickman and Anstey made a slight break and it was the Kiwi who hit the front through Joey’s Windmill. Hickman tried to go round the outside at Tournagrough but Anstey had it covered and he rode the perfect line from the hairpin back to the start and finish to take the win by 0.272s.
Harrison took third with Kneen overhauling his fellow Manxman Cummins for fourth and just 1.2s covered them at the chequered flag after a thrilling race.
Sheils took a comfortable sixth with David Johnson, Jamie Coward, Sam West and Daley Mathison rounding out the top ten. Dunlop retired at the end of lap four.