Belfast Telegraph

William Dunlop: Ian Paisley: Road racing is the motorsport of two extremes... at one end is ecstasy and at the other end extinction. It is as cruel as that

By Ian Paisley

William Dunlop represented the link between the past, present and exciting future of road racing legends.

His truly unexpected and tragic death on Saturday evening at a practice at the north Dublin track has sent shockwaves and heartache through race fans and the sporting world generally.

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
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 9th May 2017 Vauxhall International North West 200 practice sessions. Pictured: Paul Jordan and William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
William Dunlop racing during practice at Skerries today. PACEMAKEER BELFAST 07/07/2018
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, 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, 2010: Michael and William Dunlop in their father Robert's Memorial Garden in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/7/2018: Gardai at the scene where William Dunlop suffered a fatal crash during practice for the Skerries 100 today.
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, 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 tragedy of the loss of this 32-year-old man is compounded by the family circumstances. He hails from the Dunlop stable; a legend not just in name but in his own right, he was young, respectable, sincere. His family life sweet and happy. With a bouncing baby daughter, the joy of his life and his lovely partner expecting a second child. All brought to a full stop so suddenly and without time for goodbyes.

On Saturday evening when I heard the news I was sick to my stomach. "Not William." This is wrong - a mistake. But the news and the bitter confirmation soon followed that at a high speed part of the course something happened and instantly the bonds of life were snapped and in a twinkling he is in eternity.

Road racing is the motorsport of the two extremes. At one end ecstasy and at the other extinction. It is as cruel as that.

On Saturday evening I sat with William's mum, brother, granny, aunties and nearest and dearest. They know the score. My goodness, I've been in the family home on too many similar occasions.

We grieved, we wept, we prayed and we comforted one another in the knowledge that at times like this the love of family and the support of close ones is all that can bring comfort.

No one ever really gets over this. Time is not a healer. It simply puts distance between events and emotions. The pain of parting and the loss of love and the presence of our loved ones is always there. The Dunlop family know that from experience.

Over the coming days and weeks the usual voices will emerge saying stop this sport. Man and machine in sky, water and land will always seek to find the epitome of perfection of speed over distance.

William's death, like that of his uncle and dad, will not change that.

On Saturday night the fact of the sport and its total demands was acknowledged.

William will be in the hall of fame of his sport. He had 108 wins since he commenced competitive racing in 2000. Amongst his notable were five podiums at the Isle of Mann TT, four wins at the North West 200 in various classes of machine, seven wins at the world's fastest road race the Ulster Grand Prix, and 15 wins at the Skerries, the track that ultimately claimed his life.

William was not only a great racer. He gave back to the sport. A couple of years ago he needed additional help to compete in the TT.

I was in the right place at the right time and a successful introduction helped secure some much needed sponsorship to help him that season.

He was a joy to work with, as his sponsors acknowledge. Respectful, knowledgable and dedicated. As chairman of the Motorsport Taskforce I know my colleagues will be heartbroken.

I had looked out a serious competitor to give the Taskforce an insight into the needs of the racer. William stepped up to that place. He came along to a private meeting and for several hours he and other competitors from various motorsport disciplines took us through the pressures, needs and training high-skilled athletes at his level require.

His knowledge and insight proved a masterclass to those in attendance. For many who didn't know him and thought he was shy, didn't understand that in situations like this William was the expert in the room. That insight will never be forgotten by my Taskforce.

He leaves behind his expectant partner, his child, two brothers, and mum as well as his many aunties, uncles and cousins, all devastated.

But the Dunlops are a hardy clan. They will summon up that inner spirit from deep within, and survive this devastating blow.

Ian Paisley is the chairman of Motorsport Taskforce NI and DUP MP for North Antrim

Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left in the Dunlop Memorial Gardens in Ballymoney for road racer William Dunlop who died following a crash during practice for the Skerries 100 race in Fingal, County Dublin. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Flowers left in the Dunlop Memorial Gardens in Ballymoney for road racer William Dunlop who died following a crash during practice for the Skerries 100 race in Fingal, County Dublin. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Flowers left in the Dunlop Memorial Gardens in Ballymoney for road racer William Dunlop who died following a crash during practice for the Skerries 100 race in Fingal, County Dublin.
Flowers left in the Dunlop Memorial Gardens in Ballymoney for road racer William Dunlop who died following a crash during practice for the Skerries 100 race in Fingal, County Dublin. Flowers were left for the 32-year-old from Ballymoney at a memorial for his father Robert who also died during a road race in 2008. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

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