ULSTER GP: Gary Johnson sweet on chances of maiden Dundrod victory

Gary Johnson (Lincs Lifting Honda) wheelies over the Deer's Leap
Gary Johnson (Lincs Lifting Honda) wheelies over the Deer's Leap

Gary Johnson is keen on his chances of claiming his maiden Ulster Grand Prix victory in the Superstock race at Dundrod on Saturday.

The 33-year-old Lincolnshire rider pushed Michael Dunlop all the way in a record-breaking Superstock race at the Isle of Man TT on his Kawasaki ZX-10R and Johnson expects to be amongst the leading contenders in the opening race on the programme.

One of only eight riders to lap Dundrod at over 133mph, Johnson is also confident of running at the front on his Lincs Lifting Ltd Honda Fireblade in the Superbike races.

He qualified on the second row in fifth place during practice with a lap of 127.236mph even though an issue with the gear-shifter on the CBR1000RR restricted his time on track to only five laps.

“We’d an issue with the gear-shifter on the Superbike and we had to pull in because it bent a rod, but hopefully there isn’t an underlying problem there,” said the Isle of Man TT winner.

“I’d have been right on the pace with one more lap on it but we’ve a good base setting with the bike and I don’t see why I can’t challenge the fastest lads out there.

“Definitely on the ’stocker we’ve a good chance and we should be right in the mix on that. It’s a beautiful bike to ride and I gelled with it straight away.

“Obviously we’d a few issues with it at the North West 200 and TT that prevented us from really pushing at the end of the race but we’ve had work done to the bike and it’s fixed now,” he added.

“Hopefully those issues won’t arise again and I can be in a good position to challenge at the end. I’m sure we will be because it’s such a good bike straight out of the box.”

A Superstock practice session is expected to take place prior to the start of racing after Thursday’s planned schedule was thwarted by heavy rain.

The Dundrod 150 programme was wiped out in its entirety, adding weight to the argument that extra flexibility is required in relation to Road Closing Orders in 2014 to prevent further cancellations in the future.

The North West 200 in May was also badly hit as a result of poor weather.

Saturday’s forecast offers hope that racing will take place at Dundrod and Johnson is keeping his fingers crossed for favourable conditions.

“The Ulster Grand Prix is one of the top road races in the world and the track is awesome to ride – it’s fast and flowing and we look forward to it every year,” he said.

“It’s a mass-start race so it always has the adrenalin buzz and excitement around it. The TT is a time trial but as a mass-start race the Ulster has got to be the best one out there.

“Fingers crossed we’ll get some good racing.”

Johnson also rides the exotic MV Agusta in the Supersport races.