The TT lost its title as the fastest road race in the world when Peter Hickman smashed the Dundrod lap record on the opening day of racing at the Ulster Grand Prix on Thursday.
The Smiths Racing star scored a Supersport and Superbike double victory, while raising the outright lap record to 136.415mph on the BMW in the latter race (the outright TT lap record of 135.452mph also stands in his name from 2018).
After mixed weather during qualifying on Wednesday, perfect conditions all round the 7.4-mile Dundrod course on Thursday morning saw the 32-year-old break the lap record in the final practice by more than half a second with a speed of 134.969mph. His pole position lap was almost two-and-a-half seconds clear of his nearest rival Dean Harrison.
Harrison led in the early stages of the five-lap Superbike race, but Hickman hit the front on lap three with the official new outright lap record to surge clear by more than three seconds.
He was again inside the old lap record on lap four when the red flag came out next time round. His winning margin was 5.68 seconds.
Ramsey Rocket Conor Cummins finished third on the Milenco by Padgett’s Racing Honda, followed by the BMWs of Lee Johnston and Davey Todd, and the Honda Racing Fireblade of David Johnson.
Cummins posted the highest speed ever recorded at Dundrod when he broke the beam on the speed trap on the Flying Kilo at 202.8mph.
Ryan Kneen averaged more than 125mph on his Charmer Builders BMW to finish 14th with a quickest lap of 128.118mph.
Michael Dunlop withdrew from the Superbike race, but still intends to race in Saturday’s Superbike and Superstock events.
The five-lap Supersport race was a lot closer with a head-to-head between Hickman, on the Trooper Beer Triumph, and Johnston on the Ashcourt Racing Yamaha.
Johnston led in the early stages, with Hickman surging to the front briefly on lap three only to be displaced by the Ulsterman.
It all came down to the last lap and the duo were side by side for much of it, but ultimately it was Hicky who prevailed winning by a margin of 0.357 seconds. Harrison as third on the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki, followed by fellow Yorkshireman Jamie Coward on the Prez Racing Yamaha, Cummins and Paul Jordan (Yamaha).
New dad Paul Cassidy of Castletown was 30th in his Dundrod debut at an average speed of 113.289mph on his Yamaha R6.
Paul and his partner Naomi McCarroll had an early arrival with the birth of a baby boy on Monday. Full story in this week’s Manx Independent.
The action is scheduled to recommence on Saturday with two more Superbike and Supersport races as well as the only Superstock race of the meeting.