The Bristol-based Devitt RC Express Racing Kawasaki team were back in road race action this week at the Ulster Grand Prix, the final International road race of the season, and it proved to be a strong meeting for the team with riders Steve Mercer and Jamie Coward taking a succession of top class results.
With regular team members Ivan Lintin and Alan Bonner continuing to recover from injury, Mercer and Coward were more than able deputies and they opened their account for the week with eighth and ninth respectively in Thursday’s shortened Dundrod 150 Superbike race.
Saturday was the feature Ulster Grand Prix race day and weather conditions improved considerably from the mist and damp that had blighted qualifying on Wednesday and Thursday. The first race was for the Superstock class where both riders had excelled in the damp on Thursday, Steve qualifying third and Jamie fourth.
The race itself saw Steve battling with four other riders for fourth place and although he had to settle for eighth at the chequered flag, a lap of 129.719mph on the Kawasaki ZX-10R showed how well he was riding. Jamie was one further place back in ninth having lapped at 128.459mph.
Next up for Maidstone’s Mercer was the seven-lap feature Superbike race and eighth was again the outcome, this time improving his best lap speed to 131.077mph. He saved the best until last though and although he finished one place further back in the second Superbike race, in ninth, he set a new personal best lap of the 7.4-mile Dundrod circuit at a superb 131.432mph.
Coward, meanwhile, took 12th in the second Superbike race with another 128mph+ lap and he was also in action in the two Supersport 600cc races where he took a brace of 11ths with a best lap just under 124mph.
Steve Mercer: “It was all a bit last minute getting the deal together to stand in for Ivan and whilst it’s never nice taking a ride of an injured rider, it’s been a great week for me. I’m not the biggest fan of racing on the roads in the damp or wet but I’ve never felt as comfortable as what I did on the Kawasaki ZX-10R. The races themselves were held in a lot better weather and I’ve got to be pleased with my results. I’ve set comfortably my fastest ever lap on a road race circuit and the bike’s never missed a beat so a huge thank you to the team for the opportunity.”
Jamie Coward: “It’s been a good week and I’m pleased with how I performed and with the results and lap times I achieved. I’d like to think I’ve done a good job standing in for Alan and to finish in the top 12 in every race, in what was a high quality field, is very pleasing. I’ve set personal best lap times in every class and I can’t complain at all. The bikes are mega and I’ve really enjoyed my time with the team. I can’t thank them enough for all their support and help and they’ve certainly taken my riding to a new level.”
Ben Constable, Team Owner: “I can’t have asked for more from Steve or Jamie this week, they’ve both been a pleasure to work with. Steve had never seen the bike until Wednesday so to take four top ten finishes on the Superstock ZX-10R and lap at 131.4mph is an excellent return. Jamie has also enjoyed a strong, consistent week and he’s finished in the top 12 in all of the races on our bikes so it’s been a good week for the whole team.”
“We were also delighted to have Ian Ayre, Chief Executive of Liverpool Football Club, as a guest of the team at the Ulster GP this week and although conditions weren’t the greatest on Thursday, he thoroughly enjoyed his time at the event. He’s a huge motorbike fan and it’s great to have someone like Ian come along and support not just the Devitt RC Express Racing team but also motorcycling and road racing in general.”
The team now hav a nth’s break before contesting the Scarborough Gold Cup on September 24-25.
Pictures by Stephen Davison – Pacemaker Press International