Peter Hickman made amends for the disappointment of his retirement from the Superstock race in 2016 as he opened his account on Saturday in style at the MCE Ulster Grand Prix.
Hickman shot in the lead of the race from pole on the Smiths BMW and always had his nose in front throughout the six-lap race, which was delayed until 11.40am to allow the roads around the course to dry after rain in the morning.
The Louth man was chased by Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki) and Tyco BMW’s Dan Kneen during the first half of the race, but Hickman eventually managed to gain an advantage of 1.2s at the end of the third lap.
The 30-year-old began to increase the gap at the front, leaving Harrison and Kneen to dispute the runner-up spot. Hickman set the fastest lap of the race at 132.77mph on lap four as he put the hammer down on the S1000RR.
As the battle for second raged behind him, it was Harrison who had enough in the tank to keep Kneen at bay.
Michael Dunlop had been holding a comfortable fourth on his MD Racing Suzuki but the Ballymoney rider suddenly dropped down the order in the final stages. The 28-year-old crossed the line in seventh place after apparently overshooting at Cochranstown.
Aussie Dave Johnson was a lonely fourth on his BMW ahead of Conor Cummins (Padgetts Honda), who got the better of Jamie Coward on the Radcliffe’s BMW as they completed the top six.
Mullingar’s Derek McGee had was running as high as third on the opening lap but retired in the pits, as did Lee Johnston on the East Coast BMW, who had been in contention in the top six.