Belfast Telegraph

William Dunlop: North West race chief Whyte says news of death 'hit him for six'

Tribute: Eugene Laverty's WSB machine with motif tribute to William Dunlop
Tribute: Eugene Laverty's WSB machine with motif tribute to William Dunlop

By Jim Gracey

Grieving North West 200 race chief Mervyn Whyte has told how the death of William Dunlop "hit me for six".

Whyte was speaking from the World Superbike round at Misano in Italy where champion Jonathan Rea dedicated his win to William.

Rea's fellow Ulsterman, friend and rival, Eugene Laverty rode in the race with a tribute on his bike to William with whom he started out racing.

Whyte also spoke of how he had watched William's career develop from a 125cc racer at 17 to becoming a North West winner.

"I remember him coming to the North West with his dad Robert. He would have just sat in Robert's car, very polite and only speaking when he was spoken to.

"That was William's personality. He was very quiet and unassuming, so helpful and so easy to work with.

"He was also a great competitor with superb racing skills.

"He could have been even more successful but for various issues with his bikes and support from time to time.

"I will never forget the aftermath of his father's death in Thursday night practice at the 2008 North West. William and his brother Michael came to me the following day insisting they wanted to ride on the Saturday.

"I tried hard to dissuade them but they were adamant and both took to the grid. William's bike packed in on the practice lap and Michael went on to famously win but my heart was in my mouth.

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 23/8/2017: William Dunlop on the start line for practice at the Classic TT.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 23/8/2017: William Dunlop on the start line for practice at the Classic TT. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
William Dunlop racing during practice at Skerries today. Pacemaker
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 9th May 2017 Vauxhall International North West 200 practice sessions. Pictured: Paul Jordan and William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
William Dunlop racing during practice at Skerries today. PACEMAKEER BELFAST 07/07/2018
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 20/3/2017: William Dunlop with his Caffrey International R6 Yamaha he will race in the Supersport class in 2017. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/7/2018: William Dunlop in action on the Temple Golf Club Yamaha during practice for the Skerries 100 today. William died in crash during the session. PICTURE BY DEREK WILSON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 2010: Michael and William Dunlop in their father Robert's Memorial Garden in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/7/2018: Gardai at the scene where William Dunlop suffered a fatal crash during practice for the Skerries 100 today.
Northern Ireland- 13th August 2014 Mandatory Credit - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com William Dunlop in action on board his superbike at practice for the Dundrod 150 and Ulster Grand Prix road races.
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 25/8/2017: Michael and William Dunlop at Classic TT practice tonight. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2014: William Dunlop celebrates after winning the opening Superbike race at the Vauxhall International North West 200. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
William Dunlop and his partner Janine arrive at the Adelaide Motorcycle Awards in Belfast in 2014. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/1/2014.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 03/06/13: Brothers Michael (MD Racing Honda) and William Dunlop (Milwaukee Yamaha) in the winners enclosure after finishing first and third in the opening Monster Energy supersport race on his MD Racing Honda at the 2013 Isle of Man TT PHOTO BY STEPHEN DAVISON/PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 23/1/2015: That's my boy! William Dunlop, winner of the Race of the Year category at the Adelaide Motorbike awards with his mother Louise. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
William Dunlop at the Armoy Road Races in 2016. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th April 2017 Cookstown 100 Road Races. Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 1/5/2015: William Dunlop during Tandragee 100 practice. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/05/2015 William Dunlop (Tyco BMW Motorrad Racing) during Tuesday's practice for the North West 200 Road races. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 24/7/2015: William Dunlop (CD Racing Yamaha) celebrates winning the opening 600cc race at the Armoy road races on Friday evening. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2017 Isle of Man TT Practice Week Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye Motor Cycling: Tandragee 100 Venue: Tandragee Date: 1st May 2015 Caption: William Dunlop
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 10th August 2016 Practice sessions for the Plant Lubrication Dundrod 150 and the MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix get underway. Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th May 2017 Vauxhall International North West 200 Pictured: William Dunlop with fans. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 07th June 2017 Isle of Man TT RL360 Quantum Superstock Race Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 10th August 2017 Dundrod 150 Gym Co Ultralightweight / Lightweight Race Pictured: Paul Jordan and William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th August 2017 Ulster Grand Prix & Dundrod 150 Practice Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Mandatory Credit: Rowland White PressEye Road Racing: Cooktown 100 Venue: Orritor Date: 30th April 2016 Race: Supersport 2 Caption: William Dunlop celebrates
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 3rd June 2013 Mandatory Credit - Brian Little/ Presseye William Dunlop (Milwaukee Yamaha) at Creg-Ny-Baa during Monday's Royan London 360 Superstock Race over the Mountain Course during the IOM TT 2013.
Northern Ireland- 13th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Picture - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com Vauxhall International 2014 North West 200. Tuesday practice. William Dunlop Tyco.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 26th April 2013 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.com Cookstown 100 road races practice evening. Ballymoney rider William Dunlop.
PACEMAKER BELFAST, 9/5/2006: Robert Dunlop is the most successful rider in the history of the North West 200 with 14 wins and as he goes for win 15 in 2006 he will have strong competition from his own sons Michael and William. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST,2007: The Dunlop family enjoyed a winning day at teh Mid Antrim 150 with Michael, Dad Robert and William all winning a race apiece. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 2008: Robert Dunlop and his three sons Daniel, Michael and William. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

"And now we have lost William, too. It is so hard to accept and I really feel for the family."

Eugene Laverty paid his own personal tribute to his boyhood pal William after the Misano race. He said: "William and I started out racing at the same time and battled for race wins in out first year. I have fond memories of that period in my career as we were very carefree and just loved riding bikes at that age.

"I continued racing on circuits whereas William turned his attention to road racing.

Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on Monday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left in the Dunlop Memorial Gardens in Ballymoney for road racer William Dunlop who died following a crash during practice for the Skerries 100 race in Fingal, County Dublin. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Flowers left in the Dunlop Memorial Gardens in Ballymoney for road racer William Dunlop who died following a crash during practice for the Skerries 100 race in Fingal, County Dublin. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Flowers left in the Dunlop Memorial Gardens in Ballymoney for road racer William Dunlop who died following a crash during practice for the Skerries 100 race in Fingal, County Dublin.
Flowers left in the Dunlop Memorial Gardens in Ballymoney for road racer William Dunlop who died following a crash during practice for the Skerries 100 race in Fingal, County Dublin. Flowers were left for the 32-year-old from Ballymoney at a memorial for his father Robert who also died during a road race in 2008. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 8/07/2018 Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Dunlop Memorial garden in Ballymoney on sunday for road racer William Dunlop, Who was killed during practice event on Saturday at Skerries. William's legendary uncle Joey Dunlop died in 2000 whilst racing in Tallinn, Estonia and just eight years later tragedy struck again when his father Robert was killed during a practice session at the North West 200. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

"He'll be sorely missed as he was a very genuine character."

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