Belfast Telegraph

Why I'm quitting road racing, explains William Dunlop's cousin Paul Robinson

Family ties: Paul Robinson with his son Max celebrates his win at the Ulster Grand Prix
Family ties: Paul Robinson with his son Max celebrates his win at the Ulster Grand Prix

William Dunlop's North West 200 and Ulster Grand Prix-winning cousin says he is giving up road racing.

Paul Robinson will quit the sport next month for the sake of his young son Max, confirming that his cousin's tragic death earlier this month was the final straw.

Robinson's father Mervyn was killed at the North West 200 in 1980, when Paul was just a young boy. His mum Helen is the sister of Robert Dunlop, William's father.

He told the News Letter: “I’ve had a long career and I’ve been thinking that I don’t want to leave my wee boy the way I was left myself – a five-year-old growing up and asking questions later in his life like, ‘what if my dad was sill here?’ I don’t want him being in a situation where he would be asking what life would have been like if I hadn’t raced.

“I know what it is like because the only real memories I have of my own dad have come from other people – not one of those memories are my own. I do have a few little memories, but nothing really much because I was so young. I don’t want that for Max.

“It’s been on my mind for a little while now and after what happened to William, that was the final nail in the coffin for me: I’ve had enough of it now.”

Robinson's final races will take place the East Coast Racing Festival at Killalane on September 8-9, when he's hoping to win the Irish 125/Moto3 Championship.

“I’ve actually no interest now in racing myself and I’m forcing myself through these last races," he continued. "I don’t get the enjoyment any more and after William’s accident - it’s a matter of getting through each race meeting and I’m not enjoying it all.

“It’s not as if we are getting paid thousands to race, so at this stage of my career it’s not worth it for me any more with my wee boy growing up.

“It’s not easy for many people in my family when I’m racing, especially my mum and my partner Juliana; it has to be hard on them every weekend. This will lift a lot of the weight off their mind as well and I just can’t bring myself to do it any more.”

Robinson won the 125cc race at the 2010 North West 200 and afterwards, told the Belfast Telegraph why it was such an emotional victory.

"I vowed never to lay a wreath on my dad's grave until I won a race at the North West, which was such a special place to him — and now I can. Words cannot describe how proud that makes me feel,” he said.

"This is for mum. I must have put her through hell, going racing. It's been hard for her after what happened to Robert and Joey, and, of course, my dad and I think about them all the time. But my mum stuck by me, knowing this is what I wanted to do since I first started racing at 17.”

He went on to look back at that fateful day 30 years previous at the same venue.

“I was here with my gran,” he remembered vividly. “I was watching for my dad coming back round but when he didn't appear, I thought nothing of it.

“It was only later, at tea in Joey's house, that my mum sat me down and told me what had happened. I went back to my dinner and even remember what was on the plate, mince and potatoes, but I couldn't swallow.”

Robinson has confirmed he hopes to run his own team next year to remain involved in road racing.

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