The Dunlop family are in a “state of disbelief” after the death of much-loved road racer William on Saturday, with his accident at an Irish event in Dublin coming as he pondered retirement from the sport.William, the eldest son of the late Robert Dunlop and nephew of record Isle of Man TT winner Joey Dunlop, suffered fatal injuries in a crash during a practice session for the Skerries 100 on Saturday evening, with tragedy returning to haunt the Dunlop family.
Robert was killed in an accident during practice for the North West 200 in 2008, with both William and his younger brother, Michael, competing at the time of his death, while 26-time TT winner Joey died in 2000 when he crashed in wet conditions during a race in Estonia.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Dunlop’s cousin, Cathy Laverty, said that the family have been left disconsolate by news of his passing and that it had been particularly hard on grandmother May, who has now lost two sons and a grandson to road racing.
“The family’s very, very close. My granny and Louise [William’s mother] were, as you can imagine, just very shocked,” Ms Laverty said.
“Louise has just lost her son. There’s a state of disbelief at the minute, because it just doesn’t seem real. I think my granny has just seen so much success through the Dunlop name, and also so much tragedy.
“She’s getting old, she’s 86. She’s seen two of her sons die, and now, right down to her grandchildren. Normally a parent should never see their child die. My granny is very, very strong with everything she’s been through. I think she just can’t believe it.
“We have been through it twice before. Because he hasn’t been brought home I think a lot of it hasn’t really sunk in with everybody yet.”
Dunlop’s death came little more than a month after he missed the Isle of Man TT to be with his partner while she suffered from complications with her pregnancy, and The Mirror reported on Monday that he was considering full retirement from the sport in the days leading up to the weekend’s event. Dunlop had since announced that Janine’s conditions had improved, and he returned to racing at the Skerries 100 where he suffered the fatal accident. The couple were expecting their second child in September.
The Loughshinny Motorcycle Supporters Club, which organises the Skerries 100, will donate the prize fund from the event to Dunlop’s family, while tributes are being left at the foot of his father’s statue in the Joey and Robert Dunlop Memorial Garden in their hometown of Ballymoney.
The family also gave their blessing for Sunday’s race day to continue as planned, but Ms Laverty said that they are giving Michael Dunlop space to grief after he was also competing in the practice session that claimed his brother’s life.
“Michael is just very quiet at the minute, he needs his space,” she said. “Nobody wants to intrude, we’ll just give him his space until he’s ready.
“Michael getting back on the bike again hasn’t been discussed, and I don’t think anyone will discuss it with him. It’s just his choice – nobody can make the decision apart from himself.”
Thousands are expected to attend Dunlop’s funeral, with the family yet to make plans as his body is not expected to be returned to them until Monday night.
Source: The Independent