Conor Cummins and Dan Kneen both recorded good performances in the Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix on Saturday, but the star of the show was undoubtedly Lee Johnston.
The Northern Ireland born rider, who only made his Ulster debut in 2012, won three races - including two on the ECR/Burdens Triumph 675.
The meeting got off to a fragmented start on Thursday with a series of stoppages (as many as 10 red flags!).
The only race that actually started was the Dundrod 150 Superbike event that Guy Martin was leading from Bruce Anstey when he crashed at the new-look Ireland’s corner with half-a-lap remaining.
Martin was high-sided from his Tyco BMW into a sodden field, where a hedge and a line of trees have very recently been removed.
He was knocked unconscious and later diagnosed with a sternum fracture and an unstable break in his vertebrae, which required an eight-hour operation in Belfast on Friday afternoon.
Anstey won the race from Conor Cummins, Peter Hickman and Dan Kneen, but by the time Guy Martin was removed to hospital and the course was cleared there was no time left to continue with the evening’s racing.
Johnston won the opening Superstock race on Saturday morning from Hickman, Michael and William Dunlop, Keith Amor and David Johnson. Honda mounted Dan Kneen was the leading non-BMW rider in seventh, who finishing ahead of his Padgett’s Honda team-mate Anstey.
Win number two for Johnston came in the first Supersport race where he rode the Triumph triple to victory over William Dunlop and Glenn Irwin. Dan Kneen was seventh.
The opening Superbike race was won by Anstey from Ian Hutchinson in somewhat controversial circumstances after it was red-flagged following an incident involving Tom McHale (Hutchinson was leading at the time of the stoppage). Johnston, Hickman and Cummins were next, Conor beating both of the Dunlop brothers, but Kneen was a non-finisher.
The second Supersport race was red-flagged on lap four after a major crash on the approach to Deer’s Leap involving Scotsman Andy Lawson. Tragically, the 25-year-old from Arbroath, who won last year’s Junior Manx Grand Prix, succumbed to his injuries. He was making his Ulster GP debut.
The result was declared in Johnston’s favour by 0.4 of a second from Irwin, with Hutchinson another half-a-second down in third.
Cummins was eighth on the Jackson Honda and Kneen was again a retirement after a single lap.
The Supertwin race was won by Derek McGee in deteriorating conditions from James Cowton and Dan Cooper, with Willaston’s Dave Moffitt 15th.
A number of riders sat out the second Superbike race (including Anstey and Johnston), which went ahead on wet roads. Cummins very nearly grabbed the win, but lost it on the line by 0.028 of a second to Hickman’s Briggs Equipment BMW. Michael Dunlop was another 0.028s back, with Amor fourth, Russ Mountford fifth and Kneen sixth.
It was Hickman’s first Ulster win, but Cummins got the fastest lap at 120.908mph - quite remarkable in the conditions.