Dean Harrison expects the super-fast Dundrod course to suit the characteristics of Yamaha’s new YZF-R1 as he weighs up his prospects ahead of the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix in August.
The 26-year-old Mar-Train Racing rider has experienced contrasting fortunes with the machine this year, but Harrison left the Isle of Man TT feeling upbeat after setting the fastest ever Yamaha lap of the Mountain Course at 130.025mph on his way to a solid 11th place in the blue riband Senior race.
He also sealed a respectable 13th place result in the Superstock event as the Northern Ireland team continues to develop the new Japanese machine, which was controversially ditched by Michael Dunlop during practice week at the TT after the Ballymoney man was released from his contract with the Milwaukee Yamaha team, switching to BMW and Honda machinery instead.
However, Harrison – who put the R1 on the top step at the Spring Cup meeting at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough in April – is confident he will arrive at Dundrod with a bike that will enable him to challenge at the front.
The fast-talking English prospect will have the chance to fine-tune the R1 further at the upcoming Diamond Jubilee Southern 100 at Billown on the Isle of Man next month, while the Ulster team also has a number of tests planned in advance of the world’s fastest road race on August 8.
“We’ve had a few teething problems with the R1 but it’s no different to any new bike. The most important thing is that we’re getting quicker with every meeting,” said Harrison.
“We’re right where we expected to be and I’m doing loads of miles on the bike between now and the Ulster. I’ll be out at the Southern 100 and Scarborough, plus we’ve got some test sessions lined up as well.
“I’m looking forward to the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix because I know we’ll be on the pace and I think the track will really suit the bike. It’s a fast circuit but it’s really smooth with a consistent surface I think that’s going to be perfect for the Yamaha.”
Harrison is satisfied with the set-up of his Yamaha R6 Supersport machine and intends to focus his energy into ironing out any remaining issues with the Superbike and Superstock R1 as he bids for his maiden victory in the feature classes at Dundrod, where he missed out on a coveted win to Dan Kneen by 0.001 seconds in a breath-taking Superstock race in 2014.
“I should be on the pace in all classes really as we’ve already got the 600 sorted. It’s ready to race, so the focus will be on the big bikes and making them as competitive as possible to challenge for the top step,” he said.
“I’m happy with where we are and I’ve got a great team behind me in the Mar-Train boys, so that helps ease any pressure or stresses as they come up.”
Metzeler is now entering its third year as title sponsors of the historic race and brand manager Enrico d’Aloja said he believes Harrison will be right in contention for the rostrum in August.
“The Ulster Grand Prix is one of the world’s most iconic road races. It has a fantastic heritage and attracts tens of thousands of fans every year, so we’re delighted to continue our support.
“We’re also really pleased to have Dean representing our brand on Metzeler tyres. He’s an exciting young talent and he has a great chance to make it onto the podium once again this year, so watch this space.”
Ulster GP Clerk of the Course, Noel Johnston, highlighted the importance of Metzeler’s backing and said he hoped to continue working with the tyre brand into the future.
“It’s great to have Metzeler on board for another year as our title sponsor, their support over the last two seasons has been fantastic and we look forward to working with them into the future,” said Johnston.