Page last updated at 17:05 GMT, Saturday, 17 May 2008 18:05 UK

Dunlop son wins 250cc at NW races

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Michael Dunlop wins at NW 200

One of the sons of the late motorcycle legend Robert Dunlop has won the first race at the North West 200.

Michael Dunlop's father, who was 47, was killed in a high-speed crash during a practice lap for the races on Thursday.

His funeral will take place on Sunday in Garryduff Presbyterian Church.

After winning the 250cc race Michael dedicated the victory to his father saying: "I had to do it for him, and I done it."

Robert's widow, Louise, said the rider believed the sport would eventually kill him but he was prepared to accept the risk.

One of the late racer's other sons, William, also took part in the practice lap before the start of the race.

However, his machine seized during the practice.

After Sunday's funeral Mr Dunlop will be buried in the adjoining cemetery where his brother, Joey, was buried in 2000.


The service will be conducted by the minister of Garryduff, Rev John Gilkinson along with Motor Cycle Union of Ireland chaplain Rev John Kirkpatrick.

They are the same ministers who conducted Joey's funeral.

The organisers of the NW200 said they would proceed with Saturday's races in tribute to the Ballymoney man.

Three books of condolence have been opened for Mr Dunlop in his home town. Tributes to the dead motor biker have poured in.

Michael Dunlop's bike carried the decal 4 DAD
Michael Dunlop took the honours in the 250cc class

The father-of-three came off his bike in the 250cc qualifying session near Portrush.

It is thought the riders had been travelling at speeds of about 160mph as they approached the Mathers Cross section of the course.

Dunlop's bike appeared to seize and he went over the handlebars. He died later in hospital.

His sons, Michael and William, had also been taking part in the North West 200.

Dunlop's widow Louise told the Belfast Telegraph: "I love horses and I was at the Balmoral Show along with Robert yesterday, but he couldn't wait to get away to race at the North West 200."

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Clerk of the Course at the North West 200 Mervyn Whyte said they had taken the decision to proceed after speaking to Louise.

"Robert was a wonderful ambassador for the North West 200 and for Northern Ireland and we believe he would have wished the event to go ahead," he said.

"Robert will be remembered with great fondness by all who knew him. His presence, sense of humour, enthusiasm and love for life will be sorely missed. "

He said that the accident appeared to have been caused by machine failure.

Another Northern Ireland rider, Darren Burns, suffered a suspected broken leg and concussion in the same accident. He is said to be stable in hospital.

Dunlop made his debut on the Northern Ireland roads as a teenager in 1979 and went on to claim his first major win in the Isle of Man in 1983 when he won the Newcomers 350cc race at the Manx Grand Prix.

The Motorcycling Union of Ireland and PSNI are investigating the incident.

Dunlop is also survived by his wife Louise and other son Daniel.

• A number of North West 200 events including live music, fireworks and an air display have been cancelled as a mark of respect, Coleraine Borough Council has announced.




SEE ALSO
Dunlop knew sport would kill him
16 May 08 |  Northern Ireland
Dunlop killed in road race crash
16 May 08 |  Northern Ireland
Tributes paid to bike star Dunlop
16 May 08 |  Motorbikes
Dunlop death stuns motorcycling
16 May 08 |  Motorbikes

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