William Dunlop is confident that he has his bikes where they need to be in time for the final international road race of the year, the MCE Ulster Grand Prix.
The Ballymoney man appears to be back on form after two Supersport wins and two thirds in the Superbike class, earning him the Man of the Meeting accolade at the Armoy meeting at the end of July.
“I had a really good day at Armoy, which is a great boost before getting to the Ulster,” he said.
“I need a good Dundrod as I’ve had a really bad year, but where the bikes are now where they should have been at the start of the year so I think we can do a good job. The 600 is always going to be strong and the superbike is almost ready. I think it’s going to be a good one.
“The main competition in the 600 class will probably be Ian Hutchinson. You’re always going to have Lee Johnston, Bruce and the rest of them vying for it but I think Ian looks the strongest, it’s a good bike and he’s hungry this year, I think he’ll be the boy to beat.
“The superbike is more of an unknown but I genuinely think that if the bike’s as good as I think it’s going to be with the new engine then I’ll be in the mix. I don’t mind where I finish as long as I’m close to the leader. Anything after that is a bonus, I just want to be close to the front boys,” said Dunlop.
Dunlop, who split from his team on the eve of the North West 200, says running his own machinery has been tough.
“Running my own bikes and starting from scratch has been more difficult than I thought. Going straight to the North West with bikes that weren’t right and then to the TT and all of a sudden we’re here…it’s been a bit rushed and a bit stressful, to be honest.
“I feel much better prepared for Dundrod. The three months it’s taken to get to where we are now is the three months we would’ve had over winter. The point we’re at now is where we should have been at the start of the year but if I’m ever going to get a result it’s at Dundrod. I really do believe I’ve got good bikes. The 600 is brilliant, no matter what happens I’m happy with that, it’s the superbike that matters now.
“The Ulster Grand Prix is one of my favourite circuits, so fast, no chicanes, it’s a proper road race. I’m looking forward to the new superpole qualifier. If the weather’s good it’s going to be brilliant – getting a clear space without anyone around is great. The fastest rider then is really the fastest, rather than someone getting a tow. It’s going to be exciting,” he added.
Clerk of the Course at the MCE Ulster Grand Prix Noel Johnston said: “I was delighted to see William do so well at Armoy, he needed a break after a challenging year for him. He’s coming to Dundrod highly motivated for a win to end the season on a good positive note.
“His performance at Armoy will be a big confidence booster for him, which is half the battle sometimes,” he added.
The MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix and Plant Lubrication Dundrod 150 road races run between 8th – 13th August. Tickets can be purchased during Bike Week at Topaz Airport Road Service Station and Whitemountain Centra Service Station.