'A tragedy beyond belief': William Dunlop dies following crash at Skerries 100 races
- The crash happened during practice on Saturday
- His father, Robert, died at the North West 200 ten years ago
- Arlene Foster said Dunlop "will be forever remembered for his many achievements"
- North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan said: "William was a hero to many "
- Ulster Grand Prix and NW 200 also paid tribute
Tributes are being paid after the tragic death of Ballymoney racer William Dunlop following a crash at the Skerries 100 races in Co Dublin.
The son of the late Robert and nephew of the legendary Joey, William was making his return to the sport after pulling out of this year's Isle of Man TT to be with his pregnant partner, who is expecting their second child.
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He suffered fatal injuries in an incident during open practice on Saturday shortly after 5pm. Dunlop was racing on his Temple Golf Club Yamaha. The crash is understood to have happened at the Sam's Tunnel section of the course.
The 32-year-old was a winner at both the North West 200 and the Ulster GP.
A statement on behalf of the Skerries 100 organisers read: "The Loughshinny Motorcycle Supporters Club, organisers of the Skerries 100, deeply regrets to announce that competitor William Dunlop of Ballymoney, Co. Antrim, has passed away following injuries received in a tragic accident that occurred during practice which took place today 7th July 2018.
"The Loughshinny Motorcycle Supporters Club extends their heartfelt sympathy to William Dunlop's family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very sad time."
William's father Robert was killed following an accident in practice at the NW200 in 2008 while uncle Joey died after a crash in Estonia in 2000.
Tributes are flowing in for the much-loved racer and brother of Michael, who is also competing at the County Dublin event.
I'm really sorry to hear about #WilliamDunlop's death. I spoke to him a few months back for @BelTel about missing his father, depression and about the little light in his life, his daughter Ella. Thoughts and prayers with little Ella and his partner Janinehttps://t.co/MDTbHIBQfX— Leona O'Neill (@LeonaONeill1) July 7, 2018
Those have been led by the Armoy Motorcycle Road Racing Club, who said:
"The Armoy Motorcycle Road Racing Club are beyond devastated to learn of the death of our club member and local road racing legend William Dunlop, after he was involved in an incident in today's practice sessions at the Skerries 100.
"Our deepest sympathies go to his partner Janine and daughter Ella, mother Louise, brother Michael and Daniel, Granny May, the Dunlop family, William's friends, team and wider circle.
"Such a lovely fella on & off the bike. He will be missed so much by us all."
A man whose quiet charm and fierce determination will never be forgotten in the paddock. Ulster Grand Prix
Dundrod & District Motorcycle club said: "As a sport, road racing is like no other. It can bring the highest of highs, but it can also sometimes be incredibly cruel.
"From all at the Dundrod & District Motorcycle club our thoughts are with the friends, family and many fans of William Dunlop, who sadly lost his life at the Skerries 100 today."
North West 200 organisers said they were "absolutely devastated to learn of the death of William Dunlop in an incident today at the Skerries 100."
"Our sincere sympathies are with his partner Janine, his daughter, brothers, mother and extended family."
Shocked and saddened by the passing of NI’s talented sporting legend, William Dunlop. Motorcycling was his life and he will be forever remembered for his many achievements, both in Ballymoney and across the world.— Arlene Foster (@DUPleader) July 7, 2018
Truly terrible news reaching Ballymoney tonight, from the control room our thoughts go out to the Dunlop family circle and everyone affected by the sad news about William.— Police Service NI (@PoliceServiceNI) July 7, 2018
Just hearing the tragic news of William Dunlops death. My thoughts go out to the rest of the Dunlop family. RIP— Carl Frampton MBE (@RealCFrampton) July 7, 2018
This is truly shocking news once more for The Dunlop family circle , Northern Ireland and the Road racing fraternity.— Eamonn Holmes (@EamonnHolmes) July 7, 2018
Sincere condolences to William's partner and daughter.
So so sad . #WilliamDunlop #Rip https://t.co/yhGbcBcfTu
William Dunlop a hero behind handle bars. Charming and courageous in equal measure. Thoughts with the family and my old mate @liam_beckett— Joel Taggart (@TaggartJoel) July 7, 2018
So sorry to hear this. @doublebandfilms ROAD, opened BFF14 & we can honestly say that the reactions to the Dunlop's story & the film were some of the most emotional that we've ever had at a festival. A terrible loss to his family & community. https://t.co/2z3Fkt6CHa— Belfast Film Festival (@BelfastFilmFes1) July 7, 2018
Very sad news about William Dunlop. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dunlop family at this time. Another gone too soon 😢— Ulster Rugby (@UlsterRugby) July 7, 2018
Heartbroken to hear the news about Willie Dunlop. Willie was a friend and a great fella. RIP— Adrian Logan (@OurLogie) July 7, 2018
Awful news about William Dunlop. Another tragic loss for the Dunlop family. Condolences to sorrowing family and friends.— Jim Allister (@JimAllister) July 7, 2018
Desperately sad. Sincere condolences to the Dunlop family. https://t.co/EnnEbNgoJ1— Naomi Long MEP (@naomi_long) July 8, 2018
How sad to hear of the death of William Dunlop. Like his father Robert, uncle Joey, the Armoy Armada and all the friends and colleagues who lived and died by their sport, RIP— Mike Nesbitt (@mikenesbittni) July 7, 2018
We are so saddened by the terrible, tragic loss of William Dunlop. A brilliant sportsman - but above all a sweet, kind man. A gentleman. A friend. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his family.— DoubleBand Films (@doublebandfilms) July 8, 2018
North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey said: “This is a tragedy beyond belief. 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.
"Everyone in Northern Ireland will be saddened by this news. However the sadness will be particularly felt in his home town of Ballymoney. The Dunlop family are well known and greatly respected in our town and further afield, we feel the great loss and sadness at this news.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire family circle at their time. The entire family circle will be remembered by everyone during this difficult time. We assure them of our support as they face the coming days.”
Sinn Fein North Antrim MLA Philip McGuigan said Dunlop was "a hero to many".
William was a hero to many in these parts and the community will be devastated at this news. Philip McGuigan
“This is a terrible tragedy and my thoughts and prayers are with the Dunlop family at this difficult time," he said.
“Motorbike racing is very popular throughout Ireland but nowhere more is that the case than in North Antrim."
Belfast Telegraph Digital