Tyco Suzuki’s Guy Martin may have lit the blue touch paper after predicting Saturday’s Superbike races at the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix will be a two-horse race with Kiwi Bruce Anstey.
Martin set the scene for what he hopes will be another silverware-laden day at the fastest road race in the world with a hard-fought win over outright lap record holder Anstey in Thursday’s Dundrod 150 feature race.
BMW Motorrad star Michael Dunlop finished on the podium in third but was unable to get on terms with the pair, and Lincolnshire rider Martin doesn’t see the 11-time Isle of Man TT winner as his biggest threat in Saturday’s blue riband races.
“Bruce Anstey is riding really well and I think by Thursday’s result, it’s just going to be him and me on Saturday, but you never know what Michael Dunlop can turn up,” said Martin, who is the fourth most successful Ulster GP rider ever with 11 victories.
“The TAS boys keep giving me a great Tyco Suzuki to ride and I’m just doing my job boy, just doing my job. But yeah, it’s a good start to the week, although we’ve got a bigger job to do on Saturday.
“The longer races will suit me and I’ve just got to keep the pressure on, but there’s no safer man to ride with than Bruce,” he added.
“On the 600 I think I just need to man up a bit, as you really need to wring the neck off the smaller bikes around Dundrod. I want a result on the GSX-R600, but it’s the big class that takes priority with me here this weekend.”
Martin’s Ulster GP hat-trick last August gave the bragging rights to Moneymore team Tyco Suzuki and the 32-year-old lines up today as the pre-race favourite in the Superbike races.
His fastest lap on Thursday of 133.313mph was only one second outside the outright record.
Valvoline Padgetts Honda rider Anstey, though, looks poised to push Martin all the way and it would be extremely foolish to believe that BMW titan Dunlop can’t force his way into contention on the S1000RR.
Dunlop is having problems getting the big BMW off the line and is also striving to find the best set-up for the German machine, which he is riding for the first time at Dundrod.
Martin and Anstey have hit the ground running, but their jobs have been made slightly easier given the set-up knowledge they have built up with their respective Suzuki and Honda machines over the past three years.
It seems a certainty that both will be at the head of the Superbike showdowns on Saturday, but Dunlop will be doing everything he can to join the party.
Martin’s team-mate, William Dunlop, will also be hoping to force his way into contention while Dean Harrison on the RC Express Kawasaki and Pirtek Honda’s Lee Johnston showed on Thursday evening that they are potential dark horses should their cards fall right.
Suzuki rider Dunlop, one of the big favourites in the Supersport class, said: “I good progress and recorded my best-ever lap times on Thursday at 132.745mph, but I think I could have finished stronger; although we still have Saturday.
“I had good pace and was right with Guy into Wheelers on that opening lap, but I got lifted up by another rider at the ‘hole in the wall’ and then I struggled at the hairpin.
“The Tyco Suzuki GSX-R600 is a missile once I get it wound-up but the Supersport race is going to be tight.”