Wil­liam Dun­lop

The sport of road rac­ing has been dev­as­tated by the death of Wil­liam Dun­lop, killed dur­ing prac­tice for this year’s Sk­er­ries 100.

Classic Racer - - PADDOCK GOSSIP -

With 108 Ir­ish Na­tional road race vic­to­ries, plus four North West 200 and seven Ul­ster Grand Prix in­ter­na­tional wins, the 32-year-old Bal­ly­money man stands fourth in the all-time list of Ir­ish road race win­ners. Only his un­cle Joey, his fa­ther Robert and Ryan Far­quhar won more. Quiet, shy and al­most apolo­getic about his huge nat­u­ral tal­ent on a rac­ing mo­tor­cy­cle, he em­u­lated his un­cle Joey in shun­ning the spot­light. “Wil­liam beat all of the best road rac­ers in his day at the North West and Ul­ster Grand Prix,” says John Mcguin­ness. Mcguin­ness knows what he is talk­ing about, hav­ing raced against Wil­liam and the rest of the rac­ing Dun­lops – Wil­liam’s late fa­ther, Robert; his late un­cle Joey and brother Michael – dur­ing his own 23-time TT win­ning ca­reer. Wil­liam fin­ished on the podium of four TT races and claimed nu­mer­ous top 10 fin­ishes. “Wil­liam was dom­i­nant when ev­ery­thing fell into place for him and there is no doubt he had the tal­ent to win a TT but, for what­ever rea­son, it just never hap­pened for him there,” says Mcguin­ness. One of Wil­liam’s tough­est op­po­nents was Dun­gan­non racer Ryan Far­quhar: “We were mas­sive ri­vals and we didn’t al­ways see eye to eye with each other but I had huge re­spect for Wil­liam,” he says. “Our lives were the same, ev­ery­thing was based around road rac­ing.” From leav­ing school, Wil­liam had fol­lowed in his fa­ther’s wheel­tracks. Robert dubbed Wil­liam, his younger son Michael and their rac­ing cousins Gary, Sam and Paul Robin­son ‘The Next Gen­er­a­tion’. The young­sters had picked up the baton passed on from the three el­der Dun­lop brothers – Joey, Jim and Robert –- as well as their brother-in-law, Mervyn Robin­son, who to­gether made up the first gen­er­a­tion of the Dun­lop road rac­ing dy­nasty. Wil­liam’s first race out­ing was at Aghad­owey in 2000, his first win on the roads at Athea in 2005. He loved rid­ing the 125cc and 250cc ma­chines in those early days, fet­tling the tem­per­a­men­tal two-strokes along­side his fa­ther as the merry band of Dun­lops trav­elled from race to race each week­end. Wil­liam idolised his fa­ther and was dev­as­tated when Robert was killed at the North West 200 in 2008. He missed their care­free days to­gether as his own rac­ing be­came more se­ri­ous. Suc­cess with teams like the CD Rac­ing, Wilson Craig, Mil­wau­kee Yamaha, the Tyco BMW and Mar-train Yamaha pro­duced a big­ger fi­nan­cial re­turn but a lot more pres­sure. In a brash and hard sport, Wil­liam al­ways seemed slightly frag­ile. It was a qual­ity that en­deared him to those who knew him best. Like the rest of the Dun­lop clan though, he could also dis­play a steely re­solve. Ev­ery fan loved a Wil­liam v Michael Dun­lop bat­tle and the 2014 NW200 su­per­bike race had ev­ery fan on the edge of their seats. In damp con­di­tions, Wil­liam built up a lead on the Tyco BMW that Michael clawed back on in the fi­nal lap. Caught by his younger sib­ling at Metropole, the pair crested Black Hill with Michael ahead. But the de­ter­mined el­der Dun­lop forced his way back in front along the coast road, to claim his great­est ever in­ter­na­tional vic­tory. Road rac­ing has lost one of its big­gest stars with the 32-year-old Bal­ly­money man’s pass­ing. His fam­ily, his part­ner Ja­nine, who is ex­pect­ing their sec­ond child, their lit­tle daugh­ter Ella, his mother Louise, his brothers Michael and Daniel, their grand­mother May and the rest of the Dun­lop fam­ily have been robbed of some­one they loved dearly. To them we of­fer our deepest con­do­lences.

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