Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Thoughts of everyone are with Dunlop family

The death of William Dunlop during practice for the Skerries 100 at the weekend is an enormous shock and a terrible tragedy.

The volume and range of heartfelt tributes to William which have been pouring in have underlined the respect in which he was held by so many people.

He was a man of modesty, quiet charm and dedication who created a unique niche in the history of road racing.

Mervyn Storey MLA captured the sense of loss and of deep mourning at William's untimely death.

"This is a tragedy beyond belief," he said.

"The Dunlop family has again been plunged into grief.

"William Dunlop was a legend in his own right, on and off the road. He was a household name."

Road racing brings its own triumphs and also its disasters. William Dunlop had great skill, and he knew the sweet taste of success on many occasions when he rode to victory at the top circuits.

Yet there was always danger in every event and darkness in the background.

Road racing claimed the lives of his legendary uncle Joey and his father Robert.

It was the death of his dad that brought home to him the high personal stakes in road racing, and he had admitted to not having enjoyed the sport since his father passed away.

In the same interview, William also reflected on how precious family life was to him.

He adored his young daughter Ella and his partner Janine, who is expecting their second child.

Earlier this year he pulled out of the Isle of Man TT because of worrying news about Janine's pregnancy, wanting to be with her.

He also had other difficulties in coming to terms with life off the track, and he believed that a great deal of the fun had gone out of road racing.

It was no longer a case of going out for an enjoyable ride. The sport had become big business.

It is particularly sad that William died at Skerries when he was making a return to the sport, which still attracted him despite the many difficulties and second thoughts.

He has paid a terrible price, and so has the wider Dunlop family, with yet another road racing fatality.

William will be mourned by many thousands of fans, but most of all by his partner and by the wider family.

The prayers and thoughts of everyone are with them at this very difficult time.

Belfast Telegraph

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