WITH the final International road racing looming, competition for honours at this year's Ulster Grand Prix in the 125cc/Moto3 class is hotter than ever.
Last year’s Ultra Lightweight race winner at Dundrod, Christian Elkin, will return to the 2019 fonaCAB Ulster Grand Prix as one of the favourites in both 125cc/Moto3 races.
The 38-year-old will ride the same Wylie Honda he has steered to victory in three of the last four UGPs in Thursday’s DGH Recovery Services four lapper and again in Saturday’s five-lap Plant Lubrication race.
Elkin will also compete on the Dynocentre NI Centre ER6 Kawasaki in the Supertwins races and a Wylie ZXR6R-R Kawasaki in the Supersport events.
“The bikes are all good and I definitely want to be chasing a podium in every race and a win if it is on.” the Englishman, who is now resident in Randalstown, Co Antrim said.
“It will be a hard task against the opposition that is out there and you need a bit of luck as well as good machinery to win around Dundrod.”
Elkin listed Derek McGee, who will ride the impressive ex-Moto GP Faraldo Moto 3 machine, plus last year’s podium finisher Michal Doukopil and Gary Dunlop as some of the main contenders he will have to beat to get on the top step of the rostrum in the Ultra- Lightweight division.
“A lot will depend on the conditions and you need to have a few little tricks up your sleeve to finish in front against those boys around here.” the experienced rider smiled.
Gary Dunlop will be hoping to find a few tricks of his own as he chases his lifetime ambition of winning a race at the Ulster.
“I love Dundrod and getting a race win here would be a dream come true,” admitted 36-year-old.
“If I could do that I would probably quit and just put my feet up.”
Like Elkin, Dunlop feels his former teammate, Derek McGee, will pose the greatest threat.
“To be honest the only chance the rest of us have is if Derek isn’t here on that Faraldo machine.” Dunlop smiled.
“Elkin won't be far away either. Christian is a great rider who doesn’t always get the recognition he deserves.”
Although he was talking his rivals up, the Ballymoney man, whose best Dundrod finish is a 4th in 2017, admits he is up for this year’s race.
“I will give it a good go,” Dunlop said as he chases his first international success after National wins at Kells, Enniskillen and Skerries already this season.
“I was up for it last year and was running with Christian and Paul Robinson before the engine blew-up at the end of the first lap," explained the Joey's Bar MCC rider.
Fermanagh’s Melissa Kennedy made her road racing debut in the 125cc/Moto 3 race at the Ulster in 2013. The 28-year-old will campaign a KNR backed NSF 250 Honda Moto 3 machine this year.
“A top-five finish is my realistic aim.” the Florencecourt woman said.
“I just lost out on a podium last year when I was pipped on the line by Nigel Moore. Dundrod is a tough track and very fast and there will be a lot of very good riders and bikes out there.”