Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Michael Dunlop prepares for the TT in shadow of his dad’s death

One of the sons of the legendary Robert Dunlop has made an emotional decision to race at this year's Isle of Man TT.

A fortnight after the tragedy of his father's death, Michael Dunlop has accepted an offer to ride in the TT Superbike race and Senior TT for the Phase One Yamaha Team.

The 20-year old Ballymoney rider will also compete in the supersport 600cc races that take place on Monday and Wednesday of next week plus the 125 and 250cc races scheduled for the Billowen Circuit next Saturday.

Robert's tragic death left a dark cloud hanging over the final build- up to the North West 200, but Michael's decision to race and his subsequent sensational victory in the opening race lifted the gloom. In a tearful podium ceremony the young Dunlop said: "I did that for my da, that's what he would have wanted."

It was expected that both Michael and his older brother William would give the TT a miss, but Michael, a determined character, has taken the decision to ride, while William has decided to give road racing a miss for the foreseeable future, concentrating his efforts on the short circuit scene in England.

Michael, a winner at the Manx Grand Prix two years ago, made his TT debut last year and will be looking to the remaining practice sessions to re-acquaint himself with the 37-mile mountain circuit.

Of course the Dunlop name is part of TT folklore, Michael's uncle Joey being the King of the Mountain with a record 26 victories around the circuit while his late father Robert won five times at the TT.

On his decision to race, Michael said, "We talked and talked about it, but in the end the decision was totally mine.

"Since the North West all we have done is sit around the house and mope, so I decided I would come here and get out and about again.

"You know when you put the helmet on and get out on the circuit you are on your own and concentration is about the job in hand, but prior to the off and when you return to the pits and look left and right Da's not there and it hurts.

"I am under no obligations to race; if I feel that I'm not up to racing I'll just put the bikes in the van and go home."

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