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Love of motorbikes drives us to keep on going, says Michael Dunlop

NI rider on family tragedies and his return to the Mountain Course

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Respected: Michael Dunlop is continuing the family legacy

Respected: Michael Dunlop is continuing the family legacy

Respected: Michael Dunlop is continuing the family legacy

Motorbike champion Michael Dunlop has told of his passion for the sport despite the heartache it has caused his family.

He has said that even after tragically losing his father, uncle and brother, “we ride motorbikes because we enjoy them”.

The 19-time Isle of Man TT winner is back competing on the Mountain Course this year following a three-year hiatus caused by the pandemic.

His brother William was killed in a crash at the Skerries circuit four years ago. His uncle Joey, who died in a crash in Estonia in July 2000, holds the record for the most TT wins — an astonishing 26. His father Robert, who also died as a result of an accident at the 2008 North West 200, won five.

Michael (33) secured his first success just a year after his dad’s tragic death and has gone on to rack up wins every year since, including memorable four-timers in 2013 and 2014.

Michael’s current tally takes the family total to 50, after four Superbike wins, three Senior TT triumphs, three victories in the Superstock class, seven Supersport successes and two wins in the Lightweight Supertwins in 2018 and 2019.

During an interview with the Isle of Man TT Races website recently, he said: “I don’t think any family in the world would have gone through what our family has gone through and still have the desire to get up in the morning and race a motorbike.

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“We ride motorbikes because we enjoy them, and I think it proves you are just in it because you love it.

“It’s sometimes hard to love something that can be so cruel — if it wasn’t for the sheer love of motorcycling you wouldn’t put yourself through the torture.”

This year, Michael will ride a Hawk Racing Suzuki for the Superbike and Senior, a Honda for the Superstock, Yamaha is his weapon of choice for the Supersport and a Paton for the Supertwins.

He currently holds the lap record for the Supersport class at an average speed of 129.179mph, but believes that benchmark could come under threat this year.

He said: “That 600 lap was quick. I did 128 in 2013 and 129 in 2018, so to get a 600 to do 129 was pretty cool.

“The speeds should be quicker now because they have done a lot of resurfacing, plenty of re-tarring.

“The bikes haven’t really changed a lot but they’ve done a fantastic job with the track, making places better than they ever were.

“In the Superstock class everyone is on the same thing and it’s a level playing field.

“You know where you stand, the best man wins.

“I know there are different manufacturers, but anyone can go get one and make the permissible alterations. It gives everyone a free chance to have a go.”

The Ballymoney rider has said that everybody competing is pushing the limits of what they can do at every race.

“You ride a motorbike as hard as you can. You’re on the limit, I don’t care what anyone says,” he said.

“Limitation is confidence, where your confidence will take you is the limit you can go at.

“When you put that helmet on, everybody is pushing — the boy in 50th is pushing, everyone is on their own limit.”


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