Macau Grand Prix

Tributes pour in for the Dunlop family as tragedy strikes again, with William losing his life on the track

Public figures from all walks of life pay tribute to the former Macau Grand Prix competitor from Northern Ireland who died in competition last weekend

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2018, 7:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2018, 10:36pm

Tributes have poured in for former Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix competitor William Dunlop who became the latest member of a legendary racing family to die on the track after a fatal accident in an event in Ireland last weekend.

William, the eldest son of the late Robert Dunlop and nephew of record Isle of Man TT winner Joey Dunlop, was killed during practice at the Skerries 100 in County Dublin, Ireland. The 32-year-old Dunlop leaves behind his pregnant partner, Janine, and their daughter Ella. The couple were expecting their second child in September.

Fans have set up a fund for Dunlop’s pregnant partner and young daughter with more than £15,000 (HK$156,000) raised so far, according to reports.

It was the latest tragedy to strike the Dunlops, one of the most legendary names in motorcycling in Britain.

His father, Robert, who was the Macau Grand Prix winner in 1989, died in a crash during practice for the North West 200 in 2009. Robert’s elder brother, Joey – William’s uncle – another legendary figure in British motorcycle circles, was killed while racing in Estonia nine years earlier in 2000. Joey Dunlop took two podium places on the 6.2km Guia circuit Macau in 1982 and 1983.

Former world boxing featherweight world champion Barry McGuigan, of Ireland, was one of the many public figures who paid tribute to the fallen rider.

“So sad to hear of the tragic passing of the hugely talented William Dunlop. RIP, deepest sympathies to his wife and family,” he tweeted.

Fellow Northern Irishman Glenn Irwin, the defending Macau Grand Prix champion, also saluted his fellow rider. “Nothing but respect for Janine, the Dunlop family and their close friends after calling to the house to pay our respect to William this evening. Tomorrow will be a sad day. #RestInPeaceMate,” he tweeted before Wednesday’s funeral service.

It was the second tragedy to strike Irwin in less than a year. Last November, Irwin refused to celebrate winning last year’s Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix after the tragic death of English rider, Daniel Hegarty, who was killed in a crash during the race.

Member of Parliament, Ian Paisley, also paid tribute to Dunlop. “William Dunlop was an immensely talented athlete. He had won over 108 races during his short career as a motorcycle racer,” he said.

Dunlop was racing in his Temple Golf Club-backed R1 Yamaha when he crashed at the Sam’s Tunnel on the third lap of the 4.5km circuit last Saturday.

William and his brother Michael made their debuts at the Guia circuit at the 45th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix in 2011.

William, who was 26 when he made his Macau debut, was aboard a Wilson Craig Honda 1000cc in Macau. He finished 13th in the city, two places behind his brother in a race that was won by now eight-time Macau champion, Michael Rutter.

A statement released by the organisers of the Skerries 100 said they deeply regretted they had to announce “that William passed away following injuries received in a tragic accident”.

“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,” the statement read.

Dunlop’s funeral will be held on Wednesday in Garryduff Presbyterian Church outside Ballymoney in Northern Ireland, where he will be buried next to his father, Robert.