Cookstown next after Gary's promising debut
Gary Dunlop made his pure road racing debut over the weekend at the JMF Haulage Mid Antrim 150 and the Ballymoney publican - son of the late, great Joey Dunlop - paid tribute to his cousin William Dunlop (pictured) after his opening foray between the hedges.
Gary, who finished a creditable fifth in the 125GP/Moto3 class, said from his Ballymoney workshop yesterday: "If I'm honest, the way the weather was on Friday before qualifying I could have walked away, but I didn't want to let the club down as they've been very good to me.
"William and Sam looked after me," he said of his Dunlop cousins. "I was calm enough during qualifying but was very nervous on race day and along with Alistair Russell, who works with the TAS Racing boys in BSB and William on the roads, they settled me down."
Gary fully enjoyed the experience, but having previously competed on the Irish short circuit scene only, he interestingly explained the differences.
"When you come from riding purely short circuits, the roads can be an initial shock but it's the little things that you don't expect to deal with and that's where William's advice was so important," he explained.
"It might sound silly but the bike lifting over jumps was strange; I wasn't used to that as I've never ridden motocross either. The other thing was braking over white lines, which again you don't have on the short circuits. I'll be honest, that was a bit intimidating."
Typically Dunlop to the core, Gary was content with his debut but also frustrated that he didn't perform better. He explained: "I rode well but I was disappointed as I think I could have finished third.
"As I said to Ryan Farquhar afterwards, I didn't want to take any risks and make any silly passes, but that will come with confidence."
So, will we see Gary out at Tandragee next?
"I've been asked that question so many times over the course of the weekend but no, my next outing will be the Cookstown 100," he said.
"I have Derek McGhee riding for me at Tandragee on the Joey's Bar MCC 125cc Honda alongside Sam Wilson and he's like a kid at Christmas - he can't wait to get on the two-stroke."
Unsurprisingly, Gary is a popular figure in the road racing paddock and whether riding or managing a team, his presence and his team are welcome additions and assets.