Gary Dunlop will mark the 20th anniversary of his father Joey’s famous 1999 Ulster Grand Prix Superbike victory at Dundrod next month during a special parade lap.
On an unforgettable day two decades ago, Dunlop powered his ageing Honda RC45 to victory over new pretender David Jefferies, drawing on all of his experience of the 7.4-mile course to come out on top when many had written off his chances.
It was a performance that was regarded as one of the five-time Formula One world champion’s greatest ever wins, a sentiment echoed by Joey’s father Willie.
Sadly, it was to be Dunlop’s 24th and final ever Ulster Grand Prix, with the 26-time Isle of Man TT winner losing his life the following year after crashing at Tallinn in Estonia.
He still remains the most successful rider ever at Dundrod and next month, his son Gary will ride the iconic RC45 on a celebratory lap, when he will be joined by Manx rider Conor Cummins on Jefferies’ V&M Yamaha R1.
Gary, who visited the Dundrod circuit yesterday on the 19th anniversary of Joey’s tragic accident on July 2, 2000, said: “I am really looking forward to having a run around Dundrod on the RC45. I was at the Ulster in 1999 and it was a great day’s racing.
“The big bike race was unbelievable and I knew Dad would win because he just had that look on his face.”
Yorkshireman Jefferies was emerging as road racing’s brightest star and arrived at the 1999 Ulster Grand Prix having beaten Joey in the Formula 1 and Senior races at the TT.
Although he was making his debut at Dundrod, he lined up as the favourite and won the opening Superbike event, but Joey had his race face on for the final encounter.
In an epic race, Joey – aged 47 – took the fight to V&M riders Jefferies and Iain Duffus to the delight of the thousands of fans lined around the legendary course.
Jefferies set a new lap record of 126.85mph in his efforts to overhaul Dunlop, but this was a race that ‘Yer Maun’ simply wasn’t for losing.
As he rounded Dawson’s bend on the final lap, an almighty cheer went up as Joey flashed over the line to seal one of his most famous wins from a somewhat stunned Jefferies.
Gary added: “It was going to be tough but I knew Dad would push it in that race and make it a very special day.”
The Joey’s Bar Moto3 and 125cc Honda machines – ridden by Gary and Wayne Kennedy this season – have been painted in the replica livery of Joey’s RC45 in a nod to his 1999 feat.
Ulster GP Clerk of the Course, Noel Johnston, said the parade lap was a fitting way to mark the occasion.
“The 1999 Superbike race battle between Joey and David Jefferies was one of the greatest races ever seen at the Ulster and we wanted to mark the 20th anniversary in a special way,” said Johnston.
“Joey rode his fastest ever lap of Dundrod to claim his 24th Ulster Grand Prix win and I am sure every fan will be as thrilled as I will to see Gary and Conor back on the famous old course aboard the machines Joey and David rode that day.”
For all the special memories of the 1999 UGP, the event was sadly marred by a serious accident involving top racer Owen McNally, who was leading the 250cc race when he crashed at Dawson’s bend. The Coleraine man later succumbed to his injuries.
The fonaCAB Ulster Grand Prix will take place from August 5-10.