Watch: Brother Michael hails 'one of the best' as William Dunlop is inducted into Hall Of Fame on emotional night at Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards
Emotions ran high during last night's Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards in the Waterfront Hall as the late William Dunlop was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The Ballymoney rider, who tragically lost his life as the result of an accident during practice for the Skerries road races last July, was one of Northern Ireland’s most popular sportsmen and this was shown by the warm reception that news of his induction received last night.
William’s death was the third to hit the renowned Dunlop racing dynasty following the loss of his father Robert during practice for the 2008 North West 200 and his uncle Joey during a race in Estonia in 2000.
William left behind his pregnant partner Janine — who has since given birth to four-month-old Wila Wren — daughter Ella (2), mother Louise and brothers Daniel and Michael.
His brother Michael, after collecting the award last night, said: “William was one of the best we’ve ever had, on track and off track. He was a great personality, not just for the sport, but for the family. We’ll stick together as a family.
“It’s been a tough time. The Dunlop name has been massive in Northern Ireland and we’ve taken our hits.
“When we were off the track, we have a great bond and I’ll carry that bond to look after his girls. Sadly, it seems to be that whenever one of our family passes away, that’s when the awards come. We were never in it for fame or glory. I’ll hold my head up, not for the award, but for being William’s brother.”
Michael didn't wish to discuss his own motorcycling career, which has been paused since William's accident.
It was in 2000 that William took to the track for the first time aged 15 and up to his death he left his mark both nationally and internationally.
He raced to seven Ulster Grand Prix wins, four North West 200 victories and 108 Irish national road race triumphs since 2005. His most successful race meetings were at Skerries — which ultimately claimed his life — and Walderstown in the south of Ireland, accumulating 15 wins at each. At the Cookstown 100 he took the chequered flag first on 14 occasions.
In that period, William also won 10 Irish and eight Ulster Road Race Championships.
Although a prolific winner around the 4.25-mile Isle of Man Billown Circuit where he took 13 Southern 100 and eight Post TT race wins, victory on the infamous Mountain Circuit eluded him despite the fact he stood on the podium at the TT on five occasions and three times during the Classic TT.
William rode for some of the best-known teams in the sport including Tyco-backed TAS Suzuki, Milwaukee Yamaha, Wilson Craig Honda and MAR-Train/Temple Golf Club Yamaha.
William was the fourth most successful rider at all Irish road race meetings with 119 wins behind Ryan Farquhar on 211, Joey Dunlop 156 and Robert Dunlop with 135.
An amazing fact is that between them, Joey, Robert, William and Michael Dunlop have amassed an incredible 512 Irish road race wins over a 47-year period spanning 1971 to 2018. A truly remarkable record for a truly remarkable family.