Ian Hutchinson will rekindle his rivalry with Michael Dunlop when the Isle of Man TT titans go head-to-head at the MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod in August.
The pair dominated at the TT, with Hutchinson sealing a repeat of his 2015 hat-trick in the Supersport and Superstock races, although it was Ulsterman Dunlop who claimed the bragging rights as he came out on top in the blue riband RST Superbike and PokerStars Senior races, establishing a new outright lap record around the Mountain Course at 133.962mph.
Tension between the pair built up during race week and in an explosive Senior TT press conference, Bingley Bullet Hutchinson accused Dunlop of ‘spreading a rumour’ that the pistons on his 600cc Yamaha were oversized after questions were raised over the parts in the official post-race inspection.
The English rider also claimed Hawk Racing star Dunlop had received a better specification engine from BMW than that supplied by his own Tyco BMW team.
Hutchinson later received an apology from the TT’s technical director, Adrian Gorst, who clarified that the pistons in his Yamaha were eligible after he initially expressed some concerns during the inspection, admitting his remarks had led to ‘confusion’.
Dunlop, who brushed off Hutchy’s claims, was himself disqualified from the first Supersport race at the TT due to a technical infringement.
Northern Ireland team Mar-Train Racing, who supplied Dunlop with the engine, later accepted full responsibility for the oversight, which related to a set of coated cam buckets.
The series of events has amped up the opposition between the pair, who are set to clash again in an intriguing showdown at the world’s fastest road race from August 10-13, which was officially launched in Lisburn on Monday.
Hutchinson, who was among a host of special guests and participated in a ‘Meet the Riders’ evening, said he was relishing the chance to challenge for more international silverware.
“I had a great TT and I’m very much hoping to get back on the top step at Dundrod,” said the 14-time TT winner, who drew level with Mike Hailwood in the hall of fame last month.
“If the form on the Isle of Man is anything to go by it’s going to be a brilliant event. I’m looking forward to the Superpole session – it’s going to be interesting,” said Hutchy of the new Superbike qualifying format introduced for the first time this year.
“It’ll put the pressure on but it’s great to see something new like that coming to road racing.”
The status of the Ulster GP as the fastest road race in the world came under threat at the TT, but Bruce Anstey’s 2010 lap record of 133.977mph ensures Dundrod retains the honour and the first 134mph lap is surely on the cards this year.