A group of the world’s top road racing stars were in attendance at Belfast’s Crumlin Road Gaol this past week to officially launch the 2015 Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix.
The riders at the special event, which included Ian Hutchinson, Glenn Irwin, Dean Harrison, Dan Kneen, Peter Hickman and Paul Owen, gave fans a preview of what to expect at this year’s event as well as their own expectations.
Hutchinson said: “I’m really looking forward to the Ulster, it’s one of my favourite races and the one I’ve spent the longest away from with my injury.
“I’ve had some great results so far this year and I went well at Dundrod back in 2010, but I think I’m riding better than ever now. The target is to get back on the top step in all of my classes.
“It’s always really competitive at Dundrod though, so I know I’ll have to fight for it, but I’ve never been afraid of a fight before. I just can’t wait to get going.”
Irwin was also feeling confident ahead of this year’s race and believes that his time on-board the Gearlink Kawasaki in the British Supersport Championship could be an advantage.
He said: “I know the bike and I’ve already won on it this season, so I’m really comfortable on the 600. Plus the Ulster really suits my style, as I can carry good corner speed and there are some great overtaking positions.
“I’m looking forward to getting back out on the roads, the Deer’s leap is incredible and nothing comes close to racing between the trees along the back of the circuit. I think we’ll be close to the front but we’ll just have to wait and see at Bike Week.”
Harrison came agonisingly close to a maiden win at last year’s Ulster Grand Prix, losing out to Kneen by just 0.001s on-board his Mar-Train Yamaha.
He said: “We’re really looking forward to the Ulster, I think the track is going to suit the new R1 and I’ve always been quick there.We’re on the pace in the Supersport and even though we’ve had a few teething problems with the new R1 Superbike and Superstock machines I’m confident we’ll get it sorted in time for Dundrod.
“It just takes a little bit of time because it’s a brand new bike and we’re still learning the electronics, but come race day we’ll be in the mix.”
Organisers of the event also revealed that there have been a number of improvements made to the famous circuit ahead of the 93rd edition of the road race.
Alongside all of the action on the course, there will also be plenty of entertainment for the fans off the track during the breaks between races.
Clerk of the Course, Noel Johnston, said: “From quizzes and classic bike displays to stunt shows and live music, there will be no shortage of entertainment, and the legendary Ulster Grand Prix atmosphere and ‘craic’ is not to be missed.
“We’ve also been busy upgrading lots of the facilities around the circuit, such as the grandstands and new camping areas, and construction work is now entering its final phase on David Wood Ulster Grand Prix House, so it’s easier than ever for fans to enjoy the racing.
“As Ian Hutchinson said, we can’t wait to get going, it’s going to be a good one.”
Practice sessions for the 2015 Ulster Grand Prix get underway on Wednesday 5 August, with the racing action taking place on Thursday 6 August and Saturday 8 August.