Hickman tops rain-interrupted first day of Ulster GP running
Six-time Ulster Grand Prix winner Peter Hickman dominated the opening Superbike practice of the 2019 event on a day heavily affected by poor weather
Fresh from three wins at the Isle of Man TT, and his first podium of the year in British Superbikes at Thruxton last weekend, Hickman was in imperious form aboard the Smiths BMW.
Hickman set the pace from the off in the shortened 45-minute session, clocking a lap of 3m24.182s to establish an advantage of 3.6s over the Honda-mounted Conor Cummins.
On his second flying lap, Hickman raised the target to 3m23.022s on his second flying lap, which would go unopposed through to the premature conclusion of the session.
With just over nine minutes remaining, a heavy rain shower soaked the nine-mile Dundrod circuit, leading to a red flag. The session was not restarted.
Cummins held onto second, though some 4.7s adrift of Hickman's time, with Penz13's Davey Todd moving to third just moments before the red flag on his BMW.
Lee Johnston guided his Ashcourt Racing BMW to fourth ahead of this year's Senior TT winner Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki), while the injured Michael Dunlop was eighth on the Tyco BMW - though some 7.3s off the pace.
The 40-minute Supersport session was due to follow immediately afterwards, but was severely delayed by rain.
It finally got underway at 6pm local time, but was soon red flagged when Christian Elkin's Yamaha R6 expired towards the end of the lap, leaving oil on track.
After another lengthy delay, the session was eventually abandoned. Organisers were hopeful of running the Superstock practice, but also took the decision to scrap this owing to track conditions.
The first Supertwins outing of the meeting got underway without incident prior to the SBK session, with Paul Jordan stealing top spot right at the end on his Devitt Racing machine with a lap of 3m56.100s.
Johnston led for much of the 30-minute session aboard the Ashcourt Racing KMR bike, but was shuffled back to fourth with the improvements from Jordan, Joseph Loughlin (ILR) and Jamie Coward (KTS).
In the Lightweight/Ultra-Lightweight session, Neil Kernohan (Logan Racing) dominated aboard his 250 Honda, leading Davey Morgan by over seven seconds.
Dunlop passed fit for Ulster GP one month after breaking his pelvis
Hickman was "just cruising" in first Ulster GP Superbike session