William Dunlop (Flynn Honda) raced to his first ever North West 200 race win on Saturday in a dramatic action packed opening Greenline 250cc race, but only after brother Michael and Christian Elkin had crashed out at Juniper Chicane on the final lap disputing the lead.
Dunlop had not given much hope for his chances in a pre-race interview saying: “There is not much hope of winning starting from the seventh row of the grid and I only hope the bike keeps going on the warm-up lap and I get started in the race, as I have had nothing but bad luck in the past.”
Michael and Elkin who went at it hammer and tongs with William scything his way through from his lowly starting position to be in third position by Metropole on the first lap of three.
On the final lap on the run from Mathers to Magherabuoy Dunlop and Elkin were side by side, but at Metropole Dunlop had what looked to be a race winning advantage.
However, the 29-year old former double British 125cc champion from Macclesfield, now living in Broughshane fought back along the coast road and on the approach to the final chicane at Juniper Hill he swept past Dunlop on the inside to take the lead.
It was short lived however, as on the exit of the chicane Elkin hit the kerb, high-siding off his machine right in the path of Dunlop who could not avoid the fallen man and machine and also crashed.
That left brother William, who was some four seconds adrift of the leading duo prior to the crash and settling for a safe third, to sweep through and take the chequered flag punching the air with delight at having seen his luck change and winning his first ever race at the Triangle.
The unfortunate Elkin suffered a suspected broken leg in the crash while Michael Dunlop unknown to many at the time suffered wrist and finger injuries.
On his debut victory William said: “I’m just glad the bike has finished this year and to win the race is terrific, but I am a bit disappointed not to win it properly, but starting so far back I could not get close enough to the two at the front.”
Michael said of his crash: “It was windy and tricky conditions out there and I thought I had the race in the bag. It was a mad move by Elkin and we both suffered from it, but that’s racing.”