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William Dunlop: Photographer Stephen Davison captured rider's life on and off the roads he loved

 

Photographer Stephen Davison shares images of racer William Dunlop, who tragically lost his life at the weekend.

Co Antrim photographer Stephen Davison has been photographing and writing about William Dunlop, and the rest of the Irish road racing world, for 30 years.

2014: (Left) The day was drawing to a close as William sat on the start line during practice on his Tyco Suzuki at the 2014 Tandragee 100. Only the winding road lies in wait
2014: (Left) The day was drawing to a close as William sat on the start line during practice on his Tyco Suzuki at the 2014 Tandragee 100. Only the winding road lies in wait
2014: I have been privileged to photograph both generations of the Dunlop road racing family in action. In the 80s and 90s, Joey and Robert did battle on the Irish roads and at the TT. Over the last decade, it has been Robert's sons, William and Michael, who've gone head to head in races like this at Armoy. The event began in 2009 and is run on the roads where Mervyn Robinson, Frank Kennedy and Joey and Jim Dunlop of the famous Armoy Armada would have tested their race bikes during unofficial practice sessions.
2014: This picture of William on the Tyco Suzuki is from Walderstown, in Co Westmeath. It is a typical Irish road racing scene and it was at those events William excelled. William won 108 races at the smaller national events, plus four NW200s and seven Ulster Grands Prix, which made him the fourth most successful rider on the Irish roads of all time. Only Ryan Farquhar, his uncle Joey and his father Robert won more.
2004: William idolised his father and loved working alongside Robert on the small, two-stroke machines he raced during the early years of his career. He was devastated when Robert was killed in a practice crash at the 2008 North West 200.
2008: This photograph of Robert Dunlop and his three sons - Daniel, Michael and William - will always be very special to me. Robert wanted it taken as Daniel was leaving that day for Afghanistan and he said he didn't have a recent picture of himself with his boys. It is heartbreaking that both Robert and William are now no longer with us, lost to the sport to which they had dedicated their lives.

He says: I have been lucky to have worked with William and the rest of the Dunlop road racing dynasty down through the years. I would meet William almost every weekend at the various race meetings throughout the summer and he always had time for a chat, a photograph or an interview. Now and again, there was even time for a beer.

He was a brilliantly-talented rider, who won dozens of road races in Ireland and claimed four rostrum finishes at the Isle of Man TT.

Off the bike, William was reminiscent of his uncle Joey. Quiet and a little shy, he shunned the spotlight and was almost apologetic when he was complimented on another great performance.

The Dunlops are renowned throughout the world for their achievements in motorcycle racing. They have also had to endure great pain and tragedy.

Mervyn Robinson, Joey and Robert all lost their lives in race crashes and it is heartbreaking to see it come to their door once again with William's death at Skerries.

Although it may be difficult for many people to understand, William lived to race. William, his brother Michael and their cousins, Gary, Sam and Paul Robinson, took up the road racing mantle created by the first generation of racing Dunlops.

After following in his father's wheeltracks on to the roads, the rhythm of William's life followed the ebb and flow of the racing season from year to year.

These images are some of my favourite memories from those seasons spent in his company.

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 23/8/2017: William Dunlop on the start line for practice at the Classic TT.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 23/8/2017: William Dunlop on the start line for practice at the Classic TT. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
William Dunlop racing during practice at Skerries today. Pacemaker
William Dunlop racing during practice at Skerries today. PACEMAKEER BELFAST 07/07/2018
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/7/2018: William Dunlop in action on the Temple Golf Club Yamaha during practice for the Skerries 100 today. William died in crash during the session. PICTURE BY DEREK WILSON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/7/2018: Gardai at the scene where William Dunlop suffered a fatal crash during practice for the Skerries 100 today.
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 9th May 2017 Vauxhall International North West 200 practice sessions. Pictured: Paul Jordan and William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Northern Ireland- 13th August 2014 Mandatory Credit - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com William Dunlop in action on board his superbike at practice for the Dundrod 150 and Ulster Grand Prix road races.
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 2010: Michael and William Dunlop in their father Robert's Memorial Garden in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 20/3/2017: William Dunlop with his Caffrey International R6 Yamaha he will race in the Supersport class in 2017. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 25/8/2017: Michael and William Dunlop at Classic TT practice tonight. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2014: William Dunlop celebrates after winning the opening Superbike race at the Vauxhall International North West 200. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
William Dunlop and his partner Janine arrive at the Adelaide Motorcycle Awards in Belfast in 2014. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/1/2014.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 03/06/13: Brothers Michael (MD Racing Honda) and William Dunlop (Milwaukee Yamaha) in the winners enclosure after finishing first and third in the opening Monster Energy supersport race on his MD Racing Honda at the 2013 Isle of Man TT PHOTO BY STEPHEN DAVISON/PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 23/1/2015: That's my boy! William Dunlop, winner of the Race of the Year category at the Adelaide Motorbike awards with his mother Louise. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
William Dunlop at the Armoy Road Races in 2016. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th April 2017 Cookstown 100 Road Races. Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 1/5/2015: William Dunlop during Tandragee 100 practice. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/05/2015 William Dunlop (Tyco BMW Motorrad Racing) during Tuesday's practice for the North West 200 Road races. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 24/7/2015: William Dunlop (CD Racing Yamaha) celebrates winning the opening 600cc race at the Armoy road races on Friday evening. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2017 Isle of Man TT Practice Week Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye Motor Cycling: Tandragee 100 Venue: Tandragee Date: 1st May 2015 Caption: William Dunlop
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 10th August 2016 Practice sessions for the Plant Lubrication Dundrod 150 and the MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix get underway. Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th May 2017 Vauxhall International North West 200 Pictured: William Dunlop with fans. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 07th June 2017 Isle of Man TT RL360 Quantum Superstock Race Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 10th August 2017 Dundrod 150 Gym Co Ultralightweight / Lightweight Race Pictured: Paul Jordan and William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th August 2017 Ulster Grand Prix & Dundrod 150 Practice Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Mandatory Credit: Rowland White PressEye Road Racing: Cooktown 100 Venue: Orritor Date: 30th April 2016 Race: Supersport 2 Caption: William Dunlop celebrates
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 3rd June 2013 Mandatory Credit - Brian Little/ Presseye William Dunlop (Milwaukee Yamaha) at Creg-Ny-Baa during Monday's Royan London 360 Superstock Race over the Mountain Course during the IOM TT 2013.
Northern Ireland- 13th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Picture - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com Vauxhall International 2014 North West 200. Tuesday practice. William Dunlop Tyco.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 26th April 2013 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.com Cookstown 100 road races practice evening. Ballymoney rider William Dunlop.
PACEMAKER BELFAST, 9/5/2006: Robert Dunlop is the most successful rider in the history of the North West 200 with 14 wins and as he goes for win 15 in 2006 he will have strong competition from his own sons Michael and William. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST,2007: The Dunlop family enjoyed a winning day at teh Mid Antrim 150 with Michael, Dad Robert and William all winning a race apiece. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 2008: Robert Dunlop and his three sons Daniel, Michael and William. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Raymond Campbell The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Victor Gibson - Pamela Anderson - The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Adam Carroll The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Daniel Dunlop The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

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