Strong day at the Ulster for Amor
Keith Amor overcame a difficult start to the day to record two strong podium finishes at Saturday's Ulster Grand Prix, taking second and third in the two Superbike races. Riding the Honda TT Legends Superbike, Amor was running with the leading pack in both races and backed this up with a brace of top six results on the KBMG Racing Honda's.
Despite difficult weather during qualifying, Keith was able to claim pole position for the Supersport class, 3rd in the Superbike and 10th in the Superstock, a drying track seeing a number of riders put in fast laps during the final stages of the latter. With Thursday's Dundrod 150 Superbike race being halted after just one lap due to rain, a race he pulled out of after the warm-up lap, Keith's first race in anger would be the Superstock race on Saturday.
Difficult conditions again greeted the riders on race day morning with parts of the circuit wet and parts dry so Keith used the Superstock race primarily as a familiarisation session and, despite having a major scare when he lost the front end on a damp patch in fourth gear, he brought the bike home in a solid fifth place. Conditions improved considerably for the following Supersport race and Keith completed the first lap in 2nd place. There was little to choose between the leading pack with only three seconds between the top six but, having been shuffled back to fifth, Keith got caught out by a rain shower at Leathemstown on the final lap and crashed out, fortunately without injury.
Next up was the feature Superbike race where Keith led at the end of the opening lap although a charging Bruce Anstey, who'd started from the second wave, pushed him back to second. In a slightly confusing race, the leading four on the road of Keith, Guy Martin, Gary Johnson and William Dunlop were never more than inches apart but Anstey was able to utilise the clear track he had in front of him and lead comfortably on time. So, although Keith crossed the line in second, just 0.1s behind Martin, he actually finished in third place.
After taking sixth place in the second Supersport race, after a good dice with fellow Honda riders Anstey and John McGuinness, Keith then fought a hard battle with Dunlop and Cameron Donald in the second Superbike race. Martin was able to open up a 3s lead at the head of the field but, after running slightly wide at the hairpin on lap 2, Keith regrouped to grab second on the final lap and ensure his 2011 Ulster Grand Prix ended with his best result of the day.
Speaking later Keith said; "All in all it's been a good day but the weather's made it frustrating for everyone and although I haven't been far away, I think I'd have been closer to the race wins had it been bone dry all day long. The Superstock race was really tough and the tyre choice was a complete lottery which could be seen in the different variations people had fitted but, unfortunately, I made the wrong choice and a full wet front wasn't the way to go. I had a few major slides and the one at Lougher's when I was flat out in fourth was as close as I've come to coming off without it actually happening! After that I just brought the bike home but in the first Supersport race, a sudden rain shower caught me out - I got to Leathemstown and there were no flags out to warn me. Both wheels just went from under me and I ended up going straight over the bars."
"After that, the day could only get better and that's exactly what happened. The big bike was absolutely flying and I was really pleased to be fighting it out at the front. Like I say, if it had been totally dry, things could have been different but I just went as hard as I felt I could, given the damp spots, so second and third was a pretty good return. Guy's choice of an intermediate front was hooking up better than my cut slick so his opening lap, where he got a break, was what sealed him the win as we were all running a similar pace after that. In the second Supersport race, the handling of the bike was faultless but we just didn't have the top end speed to run with the boys at the front. The mixed weather fried my brain a bit during the day as we were constantly having to alter our tyre choice but it was the same for everyone and I think we all put on as good a show as we could. I've got to say a massive thanks to all the Honda boys for giving me a superb Superbike and to my own team for doing a great job with the Superstock and Supersport bikes - we've had a pretty good day so can't complain."
Keith now has a couple of weeks break before he heads to Le Man, France for a two-day session with his Honda TT Legends World Endurance team.
Picture by Stephen Davison - Pacemaker Press International