Robert Dunlop’s wife speaks out on call for ban on NW200

Brothers Robert and Joey Dunlop
Brothers Robert and Joey Dunlop

The wife of motorbike legend Robert Dunlop has spoken out after calls to ban the North West 200 following the death of a rider earlier this week.

Louise Dunlop lost Robert six years ago when the 47 year-old crashed during a practice session at the world famous racing event.

He died from severe chest injuries after the crash. Eight years earlier his brother Joey died in Estonia, having won no less than 26 races at the Isle of Man TT race meeting.

On Monday English rider Simon Andrews died, two days after a crash at the NW200.

His parents spoke of their devastation at the death of their 29 year-old son, but added that he had been fully away of the dangers surrounding the sport.

“Road racing was in his blood and Simon preferred the roads to short circuits,” said his father Stuart.

“He was fully aware of the dangers involved, but he loved the challenge that offered.”

Yesterday Louise Dunlop said she was not surprised that people had called for the sport to be banned following this latest tragedy, and even revealed her own concerns for her sons William and Michael who continue to race.

But she added that those who call for a ban do not understand the sport and the motivation of the riders.

“You probably find that in most sports, won’t you?” she told the BBC’s Stephen Nolan.

“If we don’t understand something the first thing we’ll say is it should be banned. “Robert said to me ‘We’re a bit of a nanny state, we have to have everything so safe we don’t live’.”

A comment piece in last week’s Belfast Telegraph labelled riders “glorified sensation-seekers” - something Louise said was wrong.

“She’s (columnist Fionola Meredith) very, very wrong in kind of saying that these people are completely mad, sensation seekers.

“She made them like second class citizens.”

Living with the tragedy and risk associated with the sport is difficult, Louise added, but she said it was her husband’s passion.

“It’s something we live with every day,” she said. “We do have concerns, of course we do. It’s like any sport that is high risk and there are quite a few of them, motorcycle racing isn’t the only one.

“I didn’t ever see Robert going into retirement. He was Robert. That was the person I married.”

Louise recalled her husband once saying to her: “If I hadn’t got this sport who would I be? What would I be?”