Monday 16 July 2018

'Absolutely devastating' - Tributes paid to well-known motorcylist William Dunlop killed in north Dublin race crash

  • Father-of-one killed in a practice run at Skerries 100 race event
  • Tragedy struck Dunlop motorcycle racing dynasty for third time
  • Brother Michael was also taking part in practice run when William was killed
  • William and his partner Janine have one child and expecting birth of their second
  • Annual event to go ahead 'at request of Dunlop family'
William Dunlop, main and inset
William Dunlop, main and inset
William Dunlop
CRASH: William Dunlop putting his bike through its paces at the Skerries 100 yesterday. Picture: Adrian Crawley

Alan O'Keeffe and Payu Tiwari

The Skerries 100 motorcycle road race is set to go ahead today as planned at the request of the Dunlop family.

According to a statement from gardai, the annual event will carry on with the usual road closures.

Tragedy struck the Dunlop motorcycle racing dynasty for a third time yesterday when William Dunlop was killed in a practice run at the event.

The 32-year-old father-of-one died when he crashed on the closed road system near Skerries in County Dublin.

Several friends and colleagues have paid their tribute to motorcyclist William Dunlop, whose tragic death has sent shock waves across the community.

Councillor Darryl Wilson, from Ballymoney in Co. Antrim, William’s hometown, described the news of his death "absolutely devastating".

"Utterly heartbreaking news for William's family, friends, the people of Ballymoney and the entire road racing fraternity," he told Independent.ie.

"My deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to all affected by this awful tragedy."

Meanwhile, Dunlop's friend, photographer Shaun Lewis said that "there were no words" following the death of William.

"None that will make sense nor things that will make it easier for his wife Janine, for William’s Mum, William’s Granny, for his brothers or for his beloved daughter Ella, his close friends and the whole family circle," he said in a Facebook post.

CRASH: William Dunlop putting his bike through its paces at the Skerries 100 yesterday. Picture: Adrian Crawley
CRASH: William Dunlop putting his bike through its paces at the Skerries 100 yesterday. Picture: Adrian Crawley

"Tonight I raised a glass to William - I’m extremely proud to have known you, extremely proud to have watched you entertain the tens of thousands of race fans around the world and extremely, extremely proud for to have been approached by you to cover your races.

"William lived for racing, it’s all he knew, it was bred through him, through his uncle, through his dad, and even Michael followed him. In the last couple of years William lived for Janine and his beautiful wee daughter, Ella."

William's father Robert was killed in May 2008 during a practice run at the NW200 event. His uncle, the legendary Joey Dunlop, who won more Skerries 100 events than any other rider, was killed in a motorbike race in Estonia in 2000.

William's brother Michael, who holds the record for the fastest lap at Skerries, was also taking part in the practice run when William was killed.

It is believed William was riding an R1 Yamaha when he crashed on part of the circuit known as Sam's Tunnel about 5pm.

Doctors and paramedics on duty at the event immediately went to his aid but he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

He and his partner Janine had one child and were expecting the birth of their second.

Mr Dunlop was proud of his family's distinguished record of success in motorcycle racing.

It is understood William was making his return to the sport after withdrawing from the Isle of Man TT in May to be with his pregnant partner.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said she was "shocked and saddened by the passing of NI’s talented sporting legend, William Dunlop".

"Motorcycling was his life and he will be forever remembered for his many achievements, both in Ballymoney and across the world," she tweeted.

Meanwhile, UUP leader Mike Nesbitt tweeted: "Like his father Robert, uncle Joey, the Armoy Armada and all the friends and colleagues who lived and died by their sport, RIP.”"

Motorcyclist Carl Foggarty said that his thoughts were with William's family.

"Life’s pretty shit sometimes.. feel on top of the world one minute. Then brought back down to earth the next with the sad news that William Dunlop has lost his life racing today."

The Skerries race weekend attracts thousands of spectators to the area each year.

William Dunlop's brother, Michael, was promoted by the organisers as the star attraction this weekend following recent success in the Isle of Man TT.

"A man in his 30s was fatally injured in a crash," a Garda confirmed.

A man attending the popular annual event in North County Dublin said everyone at the event was "devastated" by the tragedy.

"The red flags went up as a steward announced there had been an accident. The practice was immediately halted," he said.

"A motorcyclist who was a short distance behind William was covered in oil.

"William's machine seemed to have suffered some sort of major failure and oil sprayed everywhere," he said.

The Loughshinny Motorcycle Supporters Club, organisers of the Skerries 100, said the club "deeply regrets to announce that competitor William Dunlop of Ballymoney, Co Antrim, has passed away following injuries received in a tragic accident that occurred during practice which took place today, July 7, 2018.

"The Loughshinny Motorcycle Supporters Club extends their heartfelt sympathy to William Dunlop's family and friends.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very sad time."

William Dunlop was previously a winner at the North West 200 and Ulster GP.

Sunday Independent

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