Belfast Telegraph

Concern for William Dunlop's racing career after Isle of Man TT withdrawal

By Mark Bain

There are concerns for top Northern Ireland road racer William Dunlop today after his withdrawal from the Isle of Man TT races.

The 32-year-old son of Robert Dunlop pulled out of Saturday racing at the North West 200 two weeks ago.

The event took place 10 years after the death of his father during a practice session at the north coast races.

On that occasion, four-times North West winner William cited injuries he had suffered in a Thursday night practice session spill.

A medical examination showed that he didn't break any bones in the fall, but heavy bruising to his back ruled him out for further racing. However, the Ballymoney man said his withdrawal from the TT yesterday was "for personal reasons".

"This is a very difficult decision and not one I have taken lightly," he said.

"I can only apologise to the team and all of our sponsors but I believe that continuing would be the wrong decision and would not give a true account of either myself or the team."

William thanked Tim Martin - boss of his Saintfield-based Temple Yamaha team - "for how understanding and supportive he has been over the past few weeks".

He added: "I obviously feel like I have let him and the team down, but they have stood by me throughout. I'm going to head home and take some time to recuperate before making a decision on when I will be back on the Temple Yamahas."

While William has targeted the Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod in August as his next main event, there has been some speculation in road racing circles that he may now decide to hang up his helmet.

Last October, he revealed how he had turned to a hypnotherapist to help get back on track after his career spun out of control. He said at the time: "I was never at a stage that my life was terrible, it was just that my career had gone bad.

"I was at the stage where, financially, I was having problems. I have a mortgage, we had the baby. I was getting a bit down, run down more than anything. Career-wise I just had two or three really bad years."

Team boss Tim said yesterday's news was "extremely disappointing". But he added: "There is no race in the world, however, where having 100% focus and commitment is more important, so it is the correct decision in the end for William. Hopefully after a few weeks off he will come back stronger."

William's uncle, road racing legend Joey Dunlop, lost his life in Tallinn, Estonia, while racing in 2000.

Belfast Telegraph

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