Ian Hutchinson gave the Paul Bird Motorsport Team another International road race podium when he took second in the feature Superbike race at this weekend's Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix at the Dundrod circuit near Belfast.
Aboard the PBM Kawasaki ZX-10R on which he scored podium finishes at both the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT Races, the Ulster GP Superbike race made it a clean sweep of the major International podiums for the 35-year old Yorkshireman and his Penrith-based team.
However, there was some controversy after the race as the Bingley rider thought he'd won the race as he was leading on the sixth lap when it was stopped due to an incident. Both five times Ulster GP winner Hutchinson and the team expected the race result to be taken at the end of the fifth lap but instead, the organisers declared the result after four laps and that meant Bruce Anstey got the win from Hutchinson by just 0.337 seconds.
The remainder of the UGP Bikeweek proved to be frustrating for Hutchinson and the team as minor technical problems kept them out of the results. In Thursday evening's Dundrod 150 road races, the gear linkage worked its way loose forcing him to retire from second place on the third lap.
It was a similar story on Saturday when a loose fairing panel thwarted his hopes in the Superstock race when he was lying in third place and by the time the final Superbike race came to the line, conditions had deteriorated and rain had left the circuit extremely wet. The race was cut to four laps and although the rain had stopped, Hutchinson pulled in at the end of the first lap.
Ian Hutchinson: "It's been a mixed week results-wise but I'm happy with my performances and given this was the first year I'd ridden properly here in anger since 2010, we were running at the front in all of the races we were in. I was naturally disappointed not to have won the feature Superbike race as I felt the result should have been taken at the end of the fifth lap, not the fourth.
There's nothing we can do about it though and we had to accept second position. It was only small problems that ruled us out of the other races and whilst it's been disappointing to have retired from some of the races, I've really enjoyed racing at Dundrod again and I'll be back again next year.”
Phil Borley, Technical Director: "It hasn't been our best performance this week as a number of problems have thwarted our race-winning chances and in the one race we thought we'd won, the decision went against us. Ian rode excellently in the feature Superbike race and was leading for a lap and a half prior to the red flag but the organisers declared the result after four laps, rather than five. It proved to be our only finish of the week as a loose gear linkage and loose fairing panel forced us out of Thursday's Superbike race and the Superstock race. In the final Superbike race on Saturday, conditions were pretty poor but Ian went out and was determined to end on a high note but the bike set-up wasn't quite right for the conditions and on safety grounds he opted to pull in. It's been a tough week but whilst the results didn't go our way, the whole team did a great job and both them and, of course Ian, can be proud of their efforts.”
Image courtesy of Jon Jessop: Ian Hutchinson in action at the 2015 Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix