Peter Hickman has set his sights on smashing the lap record at the MCE Ulster Grand Prix. He’ll be heading to Dundrod with a new found confidence, having gained a second place and a win this weekend at the MCE British Superbike Championship Thruxton round. He’s no stranger to the roads either, and secured five podiums out of five races at this year’s Isle of Man TT.
Hickman achieved his first ever international road race win at the Ulster GP back in 2015, which was only his second year racing at the event. A year later, Ian Hutchinson broke the lap record which now stands at 134.089mph, but Hickman is confident that he and the Smiths Racing BMW team can beat the record.
“It all depends on the conditions obviously, if we can have a good couple of days of practice and get to Saturday with some good laps under our belt then I don’t see why we can’t push it up to maybe 135 or 136mph,” said Hickman.
“It’d be great to have a lap record around a road circuit, apart from my newcomer record around the TT I’ve not had an outright lap record anywhere on the roads so it’d be nice to do something like that, and good to do it at the Ulster.”
Hickman credits the Smiths team for supporting him throughout his track and roads efforts, and says they have a big part to play in his success.
“I’m very happy with where I am and I have the right people around me. Being able to hit the ground running at the start of the season gives you a competitive edge when you go testing and we’ve done a lot of development with the team. Every time I get on the bikes there’s something new to try and that’s a real big part of being able to move forward.
“It’s been a really strong year for me, the BMW has been working really well, we’ve managed to find a little bit of a sweet spot with it, which makes life a lot easier.”
Going on to talk about his hopes for the Ulster GP, Hickman said that “We want to turn up at Dundrod and have some good racing and at least be on the podium a few times and we want wins as well, that’s why we’re turning up. I can’t see why we can’t be in the top three in all the classes.
“I’m expecting there to be a few of us at the front, and hopefully we’ll put on some good racing for the fans; Michael Dunlop, Dean Harrison, Dan Kneen and Conor Cummins should all be in the mix.
“Dundrod is just an untouched, proper circuit, just as it should be. It’s fast, it’s flowing, it hasn’t had to be adapted with chicanes to try and make it safer; it already is as safe as you can make a real road race, even though it is ridiculously fast. It’s just such a good circuit to ride around, it makes me smile from the second I go out.
“I enjoy riding on the roads so much, it’s so much fun and I also enjoy the British Superbikes, and I’m fast doing both which is why I get so much excitement from both. For me it’s all about riding bikes as much as possible.”
Clerk of the Course at the MCE Ulster Grand Prix Noel Johnston said Hickman is a natural talent on a bike and that people are yet to see the best of him.
“Hicky is on superb form this year, and let’s not forget he was the fastest ever man through our speed trap last year at 199.8mph,” said Johnston.
“He’s just a real natural talent and the beauty of it is that despite how well he’s riding at the moment, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet. With the right set of circumstances, he could be a serious contender for the MCE UGP Man of the Meeting.”