William Dunlop fulfilled an ambition by riding the P J Flynn Bigman Racing Honda to eighteenth position in yesterday’s 250cc Valencia Grand Prix in Spain.
Having scraped onto the grid after lowering his first practice time by some three seconds in final qualifying, Dunlop rode a steady race and with five crashes and retirements amongst his fellow competitors he saw the chequered flag in 18th position, three off scoring a championship point, after 27 laps around the demanding Valencia circuit
Dunlop was delighted with his finish in what was the last ever 250cc Grand Prix race as the class disappears next season to be replaced after 60 years by a new Moto2 category.
The 24-year-old Ballymoney rider said afterwards: “ It was great to be a part of that race. It was a chance of a lifetime to be able to race in such a historic event. To finish is a bonus for all those who helped me get here. My bike is a great wee machine at home, but here it was a whole different ball game surrounded by all those works bikes.
“Two-strokes have been a huge part of my career and I would hope to continue racing them again next season on the road-racing scene.”
In what was a fascinating race the eventual winner was Spaniard Hector Barbera riding an Aprilia machine, however it was Honda who clinched the final 250cc world championship with Japanese rider Hiroshi Aoyama, the leaders lapping Dunlop ten laps from the end of the race.
Dunlop is staying on in Spain to ride in the CEV Spanish championship supersport race at Jerez next weekend where he will be competing on a 600cc Honda for a Swedish team, Veidec Racing, who normally compete in the world supersport championship.
Looking ahead to next season Dunlop has agreed to remain with the Chris Dowd Racing Team to race at the North West 200, TT, Ulster Grand Prix and selected Irish national road races while also contemplating an offer from the KRP Team to race in the British 125cc championship.