ULSTER GRAND PRIX – Thursday News
The Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Honda duo of Bruce Anstey and Conor Cummins enjoyed a highly productive day at the Ulster Grand Prix on Thursday with both riders excelling in what was a difficult and challenging day for all concerned.
Poor weather on Wednesday had already left everyone on the back foot and heavy mist in the County Antrim hills on Thursday morning led to the start of qualifying to be delayed by over three hours. However, once the action got underway just after 1pm, both Anstey and Cummins were well to the fore.
The Superstock qualifying session was the first to take place and saw the worst of the conditions as the 7.4-mile circuit was still damp but with laps of 119.926mph and 119.508mph respectively, Conor and Bruce qualified in fifth and sixth respectively and on the second row for Saturday’s 6 lap race.
The Superbike session soon followed which saw Bruce back in action on the Honda RCV-213S MotoGP replica bike for the first time since the Isle of Man TT in June and the bike was certainly flying, ending up quickest through the speed trap at 196.3mph. On the overall times, it was quick too and a lap of 130.220mph put Bruce in third overall, not only showing how much conditions were improving but also how well the RCV-213S was working around Dundrod.
The third and final qualifying session of the day was for the Supersport class and it was the one where Bruce really excelled and he continually set the fastest lap during the 30-minute session. Drizzle brought the session to a slightly early end but with a lap of 125.944mph, Bruce will line up in pole position on the Honda CBR600RR for Saturday’s two races.
Despite his 6’5 frame, Conor also excelled and his fastest lap of 124.530mph will see him join Bruce on the front row on Saturday with the Manxman setting the third fastest time.
There was also a race on Thursday with the Dundrod 150 Superbike race taking place and although he had only qualified in tenth place, by the end of the first lap Bruce was up into fourth and challenging for the lead. Second time around he lapped at 131.603mph to move up to second but as the leaders started their third lap the red flag came out and the race was stopped. With the time approaching 8.15pm, the light was fading rapidly and so the race was declared a result with Bruce awarded second place.
Bruce Anstey: “I’ve had a good day and to get pole on the 600 is a great bonus. We haven’t changed anything on the bike and I had a good run during the session but I could see the weather was closing in a bit so got my head down from the start and managed to reel off a succession of quick laps. I didn’t want to get caught in any traffic and with the rain coming in, it all worked out perfectly.”
“The RCV’s still work in progress and Clive’s made a few changes to the bike since the TT whilst we had a few little problems with the electronics during the sessions as they didn’t seem to like the ups and downs of the course. I’ve turned everything off now and it’s working really well through the fast stuff and I’ve been able to build up my speed each and every lap. It was a shame the Dundrod 150 race got red flagged as I’d just set my fastest lap on the bike and we were fighting it out for the lead but it showed the pace of the bike and we should be there or thereabouts come race day.”
Conor Cummins: “It’s been a fantastic day for me with the Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Honda’s and they’ve been working brilliantly. The weather certainly threw a spanner in the works but the Ulster GP organisers did a great job in fitting everything in and making sure everyone got out on track. It’s my first time on the bikes since the TT and I’ve had a good, consistent day with the 600 bike especially absolutely flying. We’ve plenty to aim at for the main race day on Saturday and with the weather forecast looking a lot better, we should be in the mix.”
Clive Padgett, Team Owner: “It hasn’t been the easiest days for anyone what with the weather being how it was but full credit to the organisers for keeping the show going and they made all the decisions at the right times. We all love the Ulster GP and I’m over the moon with how both riders performed today. Neither Bruce nor Conor have ridden since the TT but they’ve shown today what quality road racers they are and also how well they enjoy competing at Dundrod. They’re extremely completive and the bikes are working really well so I’m confident of some good results on Saturday.”
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