I have to say that has been my hardest week in 16 years as Clerk of the Course at the Ulster Grand Prix after Stephen Lynd crashed heavily on Wednesday and then Jamie Hodson and Gavin Lupton on Thursday in separate incidents.
Unfortunately Jamie succumbed to his injuries, leaving myself and the whole road race fraternity totally numb with shock. Our sincere thoughts are with the Hodson family at this sad time and also with the families of Gavin and Stephen. A speedy recovery to Derek McGee too, who is recovering from a hip injury.
I went to bed on Thursday night wondering how I was going to find the motivation to do my job on Saturday, but when speaking to Jamie’s dad Jim on Friday morning, he told me Jamie had been on holiday in Cyprus recently and had texted him to say he couldn’t wait to get home to get over to race at Dundrod. It was after this conversation and a much needed kick up the backside that I realised I have a job to do so get on with it, if not for myself for Jamie.
Saturday morning arrived and I was expecting bright sunshine but instead got low cloud and rain, however, that quickly changed and by the time we paid tribute to Doctor Fred the roads were drying out. Apart from under the trees the track was ready to race, I checked the forecast and it was looking good for the rest of the day.
I decided after consulting a few of the riders during a lap of the circuit, to delay the first race to allow the roads to dry. What happened next was nothing short of what I can only describe as phenomenal racing in every class. Records were broken and a new outright lap record of 134.614 was set by Dean Harrison. Everybody’s mood was lifting race after race.
I spoke to Norman McKeag afterwards, he has attended 71 UGPs and said it was the best days’ racing ever, I’d tend to agree.
Every rider deserves admiration and should they finish first or last, I respect you all.
I would like to finish by saying a massive thank you to all those people who have been behind me showing me support this past week, it meant a lot.