Randalstown-based Christian Elkin is gunning for a repeat of his Ultra Lightweight victory last year at next month’s fonaCAB Ulster Grand Prix (August 5-10).
The 38-year-old will ride the same Bob Wylie Honda that has powered him to glory in three of the last four races in the class at the historic road race, with Elkin lining up as one of the major favourites in the DGH Recovery Services Ultra Lightweight race on the Thursday of race week and again in Saturday’s five-lap Plant Lubrication (NI)-backed race.
Elkin will also compete on the Dynocentre NI Centre Kawasaki ER6 in the Supertwins races and a Wylie Kawasaki in the Supersport events.
“The bikes are all good and I definitely want to be chasing a podium in every race and a win if it is on,” Elkin said.
“It will be a hard task against the opposition that is out there and you need a bit of luck as well as good machinery to win around Dundrod.”
Elkin rates Mullingar man Derek McGee, who will ride the trick ex-Moto3 Grand Prix Faraldo Honda, plus Michal Dokoupil - a rostrum finisher last August - and Gary Dunlop on the Joey’s Bar Honda as his main rivals.
He added: “A lot will depend on the conditions and you need to have a few little tricks up your sleeve to finish in front against those boys around here.”
Dunlop has won the last three Moto3/125GP races at the Irish National road races but a victory at Dundrod would be a dream come true for the Ballymoney man, whose father Joey set a record of 24 wins at the Ulster GP.
“I love Dundrod and getting a race win here would be a dream come true,” said the 36-year-old.
“If I could do that I would probably quit and just put my feet up.”
Dunlop, though, is under no illusions over the task he faces against McGee.
“To be honest the only chance the rest of us have is if Derek isn’t here on that Faraldo machine,” he said.
“‘Elkie’ won’t be far away either. Christian is a great rider who doesn’t always get the recognition he deserves.”
Dunlop, whose best result to date at Dundrod was fourth in 2017, says he will be doing all he can to finish on the rostrum.
“I’ll give it a good go,” he said.
“I was up for it last year and was running with Christian and Paul Robinson before the engine gave up at the end of the first lap. If the weather is good I will definitely have a go.”
Fermanagh’s Melissa Kennedy made her road racing debut in the 125cc/Moto3 race at the Ulster in 2013.
The 28-year-old will campaign a KNR-backed NSF250 Honda Moto3 machine.
“A top-five finish is my realistic aim,” the Florencecourt woman said. “I just lost out on a podium last year when I was pipped on the line by Nigel Moore.”
Dundrod is a tough track and very fast and there will be a lot of very good riders and bikes out there.