Dunlop tragedy leaves NI biking community in shock

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

THIS years Skerries road race will be remembered for the wrong reasons.
Fifteen times a winner at this circuit, Ballymoney's William Dunlop tragically lost his life during practices on Saturday afternoon.
Having made a return to racing following his withdrawal from the IOM TT, Dunlop had earlier qualified in sixth for the 600 race, and was on the Superbike when this tragic crash occurred in the area known as Shady Lane.
The session was immediately red flagged, and the medical team on duty were on the scene within two minutes. Sadly, they could do little to save the 32-year-old, and he was pronounced dead a short time later.
The scene was closed for many hours while the technical examination took place, with the roads remaining closed until the early hours of the morning. The rest of the programme was cancelled.
William was the eldest of three sons born to Robert and Louise, and it was his late father, Robert, who tragically lost his life at the North West 200 in 2008, who brought both William and Michael through the racing ranks, with their other son Daniel, choosing a career in the army.
Michael was also taking part in the same practice session as William, and he immediately went home to be with his mother.
William was the quiet man of road racing, one to let his results do the talking.
Amazingly, whilst brother Michael has 18 TT wins to his credit, William sadly never got to step on the top step of a TT podium, but on the Irish roads, William has the most wins.
Following a meeting with the riders, and the family, the Loughshinny Club decided to proceed with the meeting, with all prize money going to William's partner Janine, and his daughter Ella.
However, many top teams pulled out as a mark of respect, including local team, Burrows Engineering Racing.
Sundays racing went ahead with the families blessing, but it was a sombre occasion.
The race programme was run in full, with the exception of the Martin Finnegan Memorial Race, but with an extra non-qualifiers race.
It saw a Skerries domination of most of the bigger classes, with Micko Sweeney taking three wins from four starts, and Andy Farrell taking the win in the Supertwin class.
The first race of the day was the Open, and it was Sweeney and Paul Jordan, who led the field.
Jordan looked set to pass Sweeny for a win he he wanted, but was denied by the local hero.
The pair were locked together for the six lap race and as they pulled away from the rest of the field, and at the flag Sweeney just held on to the win by the slimmest of margins, 0.764 seconds.
Third went to Darren Cooper. newcomer Daniel Mettam on the WCR Honda was sixth. Eoin O'Sochru took his first road race win by 1.340 seconds from Stephen Morrison, with Barry Sheehan taking the final podium place.
Barry Davison took an easy win in the 350 classic as Ed Manly's bike struck trouble, he persevered to finish second ahead of Sean Leonard and Nigel Moore. Brian Mateer was the best of the 250s.
Robert McCrum made it 10 wins at Skerries when he won the unlimited class, with Ed Manly getting the 500 from Davison
The 600 race was a copy of the Open Superbike race, as once more Paul Jordan and Micko Sweeney locked horns, and like the Superbike race, the excellent crowd appreciated the race with a rapturous applause after Sweeney took his second win by just 0.192 of a second from Jordan, with Andy Farrell taking a fine third on his Kawasaki.
John Ella took his first ever win in the 250 class that was combined with the 400 and 125.
Stephen Morrison was second on his 400, with Nigel Moore being the first 125 home. Sean Leonard was second in the 125, with Gary Jordan third.
The 650 race was a titanic local battle between Micko Sweeney on the Burrows Engineering Kawasaki and Andy Farrell, and they swapped places throughout the six lap race.
On the final lap Farrell squeezed himself in front to take the win by just 0.124 of a second with Darren Cooper third.
Michael Browne stormed to a 17 second win in the Senior Support race, that was red flagged at the end of lap four.
Wayne Sheehan was second, and local rider, Dermot Cleary finished in third in his road race debut.
The Country Crest/Des D'Arcy Grand Final was the final race of a trying day, and this time Micko Sweeney took control from the very start, and beat Darren Cooper by over two seconds, with Daniel Mettam getting the better of a race long tussle with Stephen Proctor and Andy Farrell.
It was a tough day for all concerned, yet the respect that the riders who took part gained, as well as the club, will be sadly overshadowed by the terrible crash that took another of the Dunlop dynasty for the sport that we love, and yet hate at times like this
Elsewhere, Keith Farmer did the double at the Knockhill round of BSB, when he won a record breaking superstock race.
Andrew Smyth took 21st and 20th in the moto three race, whilst BSB Debutant, Jamie Lyons suffered a practice spill, but the determined schoolboy went on to take 14th in his final race, and with it, two points for his hard work.
William Dunlop
William Dunlop was a quietly spoken person, modest and unassuming,
There are a few in the sport as liked and respected. William was an absolute gentleman, a great ambassador for pure road racing, he was just another unique Dunlop talent on the roads.
His race record speaks for itself - multiple times an Irish road race champion, a multi-North West 200 and Ulster GP winner, a race winner at pretty much all Irish national events, he will unquestionably be regarded as one of Irish road racing's greatest ever road racers.
A hero, a legend, unassuming, humble, down to earth, totally without an ego, you couldn't not get on with William.
His smoothness on track was often his secret to riding as fast as he did to overcome his rivals many times.
Like his amazing Uncle Joey, he did his talking on the bike, and could never be underestimated when on the grid.
William's tragic accident has robbed the sport of one of its greatest heroes ,but the biggest losers are undoubtedly the Dunlop Family, who unfortunately have suffered these tragic circumstances before.
On behalf of Tyrone Courier, sincere sympathies are extended to his partner Janine and daughter Ella, his mum Louise, his brothers Michael and Daniel, his Granny May, his race team, and large circle of friends. May he Rest in Peace.
Trimble continues to rumble
Bangor ace, Curtis Trimble was again in dominating form, when he scored a full house at the penultimate round of the IMC series, held for the first time at the Kirkistown race circuit.
The Bangor scholar started each race from pole position, and never looked back, pulling away in each class with ease.
The Kirkistown circuit was a new challenge for the riders as this was the first time this circuit has been used for Pit Bikes and Minimotos.
Since the first round this year, quite a few newcomers have really shown great potential, including rookies Rossi Dobson and Gary Scott, both of whom battled wheel to wheel in the 140 junior gearbox class, with Dobson taking three wins, but Scott taking the fastest lap in each outing.
A spill on the final lap cost Scott second overall, which went to the consistent Matthew McCord.
Fourth overall went to another newcomer to the sport, Alexander Rowan, whose performances merited IMC Rider of the Day Award.
Trimble, who could move to short circuits in the future, took his first win of the day when he won the 140 senior stock class from Adam Dunn, with Nigel Robinson in third.
Second in race one, Kyle Cross was a non-starter in the next two races.
David McIlroy topped the Group B 140 Senior Stock class with two wins from Mikolaj Vaz, who took a win and two second places. Robbie King just edged out Jamie Blackwood for third spot by a mere point!
The Mini GP Class saw Trimble on board the exciting new 140 Kayo, courtesy of Alan and Jackie McCrory, Gareth Morell kept Trimble honest in each race but settled for second in each outing.
Making his debut in this class, was schoolboy Rossi Dobson, the former motocross rider has made a great transition to the tarmac, and his performance on this machine was nothing short of impressive.
Rossi, son of Sammy Dobson, a 250 Podium finisher at the North West 200, took third in each outing against his more experienced rivals.
Championship contender Christopher McCallion suffered gearbox selection problems, costing him valuable points, but thanks to David Sherman, McCallion was able to participate in the final race and gain valuable points with a fourth place finish.
The Senior Open Pit Bike class was yet another demolition act for Trimble, this time on board Jackie Raineys 85cc KTM.
Nigel Robinson, swapping to two stroke power was ever consistent in second place. David McIlroy was also in good form, taking third in each race to finish third overall, who was under pressure from Mikolaj Vaz.
Shrugging of a hand injury, Nigel Robinson consolidated his place at the top of the Veterans class with three hard fought wins.
Former Irish road race champion, Darren Burns pushed his rival Robinson in each race, but had to settle for second best, with Malcolm Robinson third in each outing.
Ruben Sherman Boyd continued his dominance in the 4.2 mini moto class, taking overall victory from Leon Scott, Buster Sherman Boyd with Beau McCrory fourth.
Despite a couple of stoppages and an extra break between races, the 15 race program was competed by 4pm.
A big thanks must go to all the riders for their cooperation in helping the smooth running of the event, also to the Medics and Marshalls for their help during the course of the day.
Best wishes to Jonny Rainey, who was injured during a practice session, Get Well soon,
The IMC will be running a half day practice , on Sunday, 22nd July, Pit Bikes, Open Class, Mini GPs and Mini Motos.
Local riders,Sam McFarland was sixth in the Group B pit bikes, and seventh in the Mini GPs, Nancie Armstrong was 10th in the Pit Bikes, with Joe Quinn sixth in the Open Class
Curtis Trimble had the perfect weekend with an amazing nine wins from nine starts.
The IMC also wish to extend their Condolences to the Dunlop families, following the untimely the passing of road race star William Dunlop.


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