Belfast Telegraph

William Dunlop: Racing has lost one of its finest, a very special young man, says Phillip McCallen

 

By Phillip McCallen

A smile has gone from the face of motorcycle racing. That smile belonged to William Dunlop. And for all his triumphs and talent on the track, it is his trademark smile that I remember most in this time of terrible tragedy.

He smiled as best he could when things maybe didn't go well for him in a race and even more broadly when he won.

I snapped one of the pictures on these pages of William on the grid before a race and it just encapsulates him - so much so, I posted it on my social media in tribute to him when the awful news came through on Saturday night.

It brought back sad memories of the death of his father Robert in a practice accident at the 2008 North West 200 and of his uncle Joey, during a race in Estonia in 2000. Then, like now, I was on holiday when a text message came through from a work colleague.

Social media was in its infancy when Joey passed away and it took a while to get the full details. It was same on Saturday night here in Florida as I didn't have access to the internet when the message came through and it was much later in the evening before I was able to read the full, heartbreaking story.

Ironically, Joey's widow, Linda, and her family are also here and we were due to meet. Instead, my wife Manda and our family, found ourselves sending them our concerns and condolences.

And then came the realisation that William had been taken on the exact date of Joey's funeral 18 years ago at Garryduff Presbyterian church and now another Dunlop family burial is being arranged.

I cannot begin to imagine what this latest blow must be like for William's mother ­Louise, to lose a husband and now a son, and for his grandmother May, Joey and Robert's mother, to lose two sons, and now a beloved grandson.

And let us not also forget another member of this close knit motorcycle racing family, Joey's brother in law Mervyn Robinson, father of racer Paul Robinson. Mervyn was lost at the 1980 North West 200 where Paul grew up to win the last 125 race there, dedicating it to his dad's memory.

Our hearts go out to William's partner Janine, their baby Ella and the unborn child he will never see. It is a cruel sport on weekends like this.

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

I now consider it a blessing that Manda and I did not start a family until after I finished racing.

It wasn't planned that way, it just happened.

William inherited his dad's passion and talent for motorcycle racing but in some ways he was more like Joey.

His brother Michael would be more up front and outgoing, as Robert could be.

William, by comparison, was a much more subtle personality.

And he was such a good young lad. I never hear him say a bad word about anyone in a sport where there can be a lot of intense rivalry that sometimes results in verbal clashes.

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

In fact, I hardly heard him say very much at all.

He's like Joey in that respect, that he could communicate what he was thinking by his expression or just the look in his eyes.

I remember William and Michael as small boys, coming to race meetings and being looked after by Louise when I was racing against Robert back the 80s.

It was inevitable, given their birthright, that they would get into racing and it was no ­surprise to me to see them on the grid when they came of age.

Michael, as we all know, won race after race and continues to dominate in the toughest of them all, the Isle of Man TT.

William found reaching that level a little more difficult, though no-one in the sport considered he was living in the shadow of his younger brother. He was always seen as a competitor in his own right.

William Dunlop at the North West 200 this year. Picture taken by Phillip McCallen
William Dunlop at the North West 200 this year. Picture taken by Phillip McCallen
William Dunlop

He just didn't seem to get the breaks you need in this game.

He had problems with injuries, with his machinery and sometimes securing sponsors.

But on his good days, when everything was right, William could win races as he showed at the North West and Ulster Grand Prix.

His world seemed to fall apart, though, when Robert died.

I read recently where he said how he and Michael had to become men overnight. Robert had always been there to sort things for them on the racing and home front. Now they had to fend for themselves and he quickly found out how tough it was.

I also noted where he said the fun had gone out of racing for him... he lamented how racing had turned into a business... not like throwing a bike in the back of a van, turning up and taking off from the grid.

In many respects, he was right but when he went out, he still gave his all.

And he showed he had his priorities right when he withdrew from the TT over concerns for Janine and her pregnancy.

William wasn't a risk taker. He will have gone out at Skerries satisfied all was well with himself and his machine but in a high-speed sport there are things you cannot legislate for. A racing accident has occurred and sadly, due to circumstances that have yet to be fully determined, it has proved to be fatal.

We await now the usual clarion calls for road racing to be curtailed or even banned.

What critics of the sport will never understand in that racing is in the DNA of everyone of us who clambers aboard a racing motorcycle. No-one forces us to do it.

Their silence was deafening after a hugely successful North West 200 earlier this year and I hope they remain circumspect.

Here we have a fine young family man who has lost his life in pursuit of the sport he loved. His family gave their blessing to the Skerries race continuing yesterday as they believed would have been his wish.

So why use his loss to attack a sport he loved?

For now, though, the thoughts and focus of the road racing family, our hundreds of riders and many thousands of supporters, are with the Dunlops.

Phillip McCallen is an 11-time NW200 winner, including a record five wins in one day, and owner of Phillip McCallen Motorcycles

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