Belfast Telegraph

Quiet man on film

William's big break fails to keep him off the red carpet for movie launch

By Paul Lindsay

The words 'quiet' and 'unassuming' are two that best describe the character of Ballymoney road racer William Dunlop.

And while tenacious and confident would come instantly to the pen when writing about his prodigiously talented younger brother Michael – four times a winner at this year's Isle of Man TT Races – those who know William best would tell you he's no shrinking violet.

Winning the opening Superbike race at this year's Vauxhall International North West 200 with new team Tyco Suzuki may well have put William on the International Road Racing map.

Between them this year, the Dunlop boys have won seven International road races thus far, with five lower rung podiums making an impressive tally. Michael, as we have come to expect, has stepped forward as road racing's new shining light, taking his Isle of Man TT career victories into double figures: – now on 11 wins.

His eight well-documented wins in the past two years on Mona's Isle have exalted him as the undoubted new King of the Mountain, but William is doing what William does best – making incremental steps in the right direction with little or no fuss.

The aforementioned North West 200 Superbike race one victory was backed up with sixth place in the Superbike TT on the opening day on the Island, followed up by a fine third place in the second Supersport encounter.

Last Friday's blue riband Senior TT saw the 'quiet man' lead the race in the opening exchanges on lap one. He was still in the mix on lap two but he crashed out at Les Graham Memorial on lap three, and despite breaking his leg in the 130mph crash, William believes TT2014 was his best yet.

Speaking from London, prior to last night's West End Premier of ROAD, which pays homage to the Dunlop family and their passion for pure road racing, William said: "I was probably a bit disappointed with the start of the TT but at the end of the week, despite the crash, I have to say I was very pleased with the TT."

Leading the Senior TT was not something most people expected from William, and despite Michael overhauling him at the end of lap one, he was still in contention after 76 miles of racing, just a handful of seconds down on his brother.

"That Superbike, I just love it," he said without hesitation. "It feels like my bike. I was able to jump on it and go quick from the word go down Bray Hill, whereas before it maybe took me a few miles to adjust after maybe riding a 600."

Recounting the Senior TT, he said: "I didn't feel that good at the start and was surprised to see P1, but the second lap (his best ever on the Mountain Course at 130.853mph) was good and I knew we would get stronger. The good thing is the lap time came easy and I wasn't on my limit at all."

Honest to the end, he then said: "I made a few mistakes, but not because I was going too quickly. The mistakes were because I was too slow and cautious in some places. Once I got my pit stop out of the way, I thought 'let's go for it.'"

Open and direct about the crash, he explained: "I went for the brakes and obviously didn't release the throttle properly. So when I let the brakes off, the bike started to go forward. I thought I'd maybe hit a false neutral, but when I look back I realised I had arm pump and couldn't feel the bars properly."

Knowing the inevitable was coming at high speed, he said: "I leaned the bike over as far as I could to try and get around the corner; then when I was lying in the road I was cursing the bike," he laughed.

"But when I was in hospital I realised I had no feeling at all in my hands and after watching the footage, I could hear the engine working. So I've obviously not released the throttle fully."

Looking ahead, William hopes to be back in action in just over three weeks' time at Skerries Road Races in County Dublin on July 5; just before the Southern 100 on the Isle of Man the following week.

"The break's not that bad in the leg," he said of his double fracture of the left fibula. "It's not in a cast or anything. Worst-case scenario I'd get it pinned, as I don't want to go straight to the Ulster Grand Prix. We've got a bit of confidence now so I want to keep it going."

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