Friday, 20 August 2010

Lougher re-writes the Ulster GP history book

Handroid-protected Ian Lougher became the second most successful rider in the history of the Ulster Grand Prix when he romped to victory in the 250cc race in Saturday's event. The win takes the popular Welshman to 15 wins, one more than Philip McCallen with only the great Joey Dunlop having secured more victories. Ian also moves into joint second with 18 wins in the all-time list of most victories round the Dundrod circuit, ahead of such notables as Ray McCullough, Brian Reid and Robert Dunlop, with Joey Dunlop topping the list again.

Ian's win on Norman Rank's, Pirate/Berwick Racing 250 was a brilliant display of speed racing, taking the race by the scruff of the neck from the lights he was simply unstoppable as he extended his lead on virtually every lap. An opening lap of 116.87mph gave him a lead of nearly four seconds and by the second lap the lead was up to around five seconds from William Dunlop. A blistering third lap of 120.12mph, just under Darren Lindsay's 2006 lap record, effectively broke any resistance from Dunlop and gave Ian a lead of almost ten seconds at the halfway stage. Ian was able to ease up for the remainder of the race and crossed the line at the finish just over ten seconds in front of Dunlop with Paul Robinson in third.

The Lisburn City Council Superstock Race was the first race on the programme, and from fifth on the second row of the grid Ian was soon in the mix and at the end of the opening lap he was up to fourth behind Amor, Hutchinson and Farquhar. By lap three Amor and Hutchinson had broken clear, with Farquhar on his own in third, and behind them Gary Johnson was fourth with Ian right behind. On the next lap however Lougher and Johnson were very much on the move and were right on Farquhar's case and as they crossed the line together at the end of the lap Ian was back up to to fourth. On the fifth lap the trio were locked together, however Ian overhauled Ryan Farquhar, moving into 3rd place and having eeked out a comfortable margin on the Ninja ZX-10R, a podium looked secure. But an incident further down the order forced the race to be red flagged, bringing the race to a premature conclusion and with the result being taken from the end of the previous lap, the Blackhorse Kawasaki team boss had to concede his 3rd place finish to finish just off the podium in 4th.

Having decided to give the second Supersport race a miss later in the day, Ian and the team pinned their Supersport hopes on the Strong Construction Supersport Race. However there was to be disappointment as Ian came off the ZX-6R at the Hairpin when Manxman Dan Kneen accidently hit the pit lane speed limiter button on his handlebar causing his bike to virtually stop; with Lougher poised for an over taking manouvre, a collision was unavoidable. Luckily Ian was unscathed and the damage to the machine was minimal.

In the Stoneyford Concrete/The Peoples UGP Superbike Race 1 Ian opted to ride the Ninja ZX-10R Superstock bike and from the off a small group made a break for it. Behind them Ian was leading a seven man express train out of Leathemstown Corner. As they completed the first circuit Ian was eighth just over a second behind Gary Johnson. Cameron Donald dropped back on the next lap as Ian battled on with James McBride, Dan Kneen and Michael Pearson for company. McBride got ahead of Lougher on the third lap with Kneen following suit on the next lap but there was nothing between the three and Ian doggedly fought back to overhaul Kneen once again. The battle between the two had allowed McBride to open up a small cushion and at the chequered flag he was able to secure seventh with Ian fending off the challenge of Kneen to finish a battling eighth.

The final race of the day, the second Superbike race, got off to a hectic start with Ian right in the mix as they arrived at Leathemstown. As with the first superbike race a small group was attempting to go clear whilst right behind them was Guy Martin, Lougher and Bruce Anstey. At the conclusion of the lap Martin and Anstey had opened up a small gap on Ian with Gary Johnson joining them. A lap later and Ian was in a relatively safe eighth place but the next lap saw him come under pressure from a three man group which included William Dunlop, James McBride and Michael Pearson. The next two laps to the finish would see Ian draw upon every ounce of his experience and skill to fend off his rivals and secure another eighth place superbike finish on his Superstock bike.

In conclusion, a satisfying Ulster Grand Prix for Ian Loughe, with a lap of 130.2mph on the Superstock Ninja ZX-10R proving what a great effort was made.

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