It was a day of mixed fortunes for Isle of Man TT legend John McGuinness as he returned to Dundrod for the Ulster Grand Prix on Saturday.
The 17-times TT winner enjoyed strong rides in both Supersport races, but suffered misfortune in the Superbike events. His best results was in the first Supersport race, where he took 6th, while hopes of a top 5 finish in the feature Superbike race were dashed by a holed radiator.
On his first Dundrod outing since 2009, the Morecambe racer was inside the top 12 for all qualifying sessions, with his best an 8th place on the Honda TT Legends machine in the Superbike class.
Conditions were patchy when racing got under way on Saturday, and McGuinness rode a sensible race in the 6-lap Superstock content, finishing 10th on his Padgetts Honda.
Switching to the Supersport for his first 600cc outing since the TT, he enjoyed his best race – taking 6th with a series of 124mph-plus laps.
During the feature Superbike race, McGuinness was part of a four-way battle for 2nd, while Bruce Anstey lead the way. There was little to choose between McGuinness, teammate Keith Amor, Guy Martin and Gary Johnson as the race unfolded, but, after lapping at almost 131mph, the race came to an end for McGuinness when a stone put a hole in his radiator and forced him to retire at Deer’s Leap.
The disappointment was quickly forgotten as the riders lined up for the 2nd Supersport race, and McGuinness looked set for another 6th place until, in the final third of the last lap, Anstey and Amor swept by, demoting him to 8th.
The Honda TT Legends team was unable to repair the Superbike in time for the second race, but the organisers allowed McGuinness to take to the track, at the back of the field, once repairs were complete. Despite the lost time, he battled forward to a well-earned 17th place, entertaining fans all the way.
“It's been a bit of a mixed bag for me, but I've enjoyed the racing and it's been good to be back at Dundrod. The Superstock race was a bit patchy so I rode at a pace I was happy with, whilst the 600 races went really well and I was happy with both how I was riding and the results.”
“We just lost the tow to the leading group and if it wasn't for that, I'm sure I could have run with them as the lap times were very similar. It was a bit more difficult on the big bike and having not ridden one here since 2007 it took me a while to find my feet and get up to the pace of the other riders.”
“By the time of the first Superbike race though I wasn't far away and I was really enjoying it, going as fast as the leaders and running right with them. On the last lap though, the bike started to slow and I had to retire, which we later found out to be due to a hole in the radiator.”
“We changed the engine and the radiator and the team did a mega job repairing it, but we were just a few minutes too late to get on the grid so I spoke to the organiser and asked if could just go out at the back of the pack and show the fans that we didn’t come here not to do our job.”
“I actually enjoyed it in a bizarre way, just riding round with no pressure and pulling a few wheelies just like Graeme Crosby did back in the 1980s so I had a bit of fun.”
“Like I say, a mixed day but an enjoyable one and we'll be back again in 2012 and hope for a bit better fortune.”
McGuinness returns to World Endurance Championship duties next, with a two-day Honda TT Legends test planned for Le Mans later this month.