Ian Lougher recalls two-stroke battles with William Dunlop at Dundrod

Ten-time Isle of Man TT winner Ian Lougher remembers William Dunlop as a fierce but safe rival after the two-stroke aficionados served up some thrilling battles over the years.

Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 12:25 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th July 2018, 12:28 pm
Ian Lougher (Barnes Honda) leads William Dunlop (PJ Flynn Honda) in the 125cc race at the Ulster Grand Prix in 2008.

Ballymoney rider Dunlop made his name in the 125 and 250 classes in the early stages of his career and relished the chance to pit himself against Lougher at events such as the Ulster Grand Prix and Southern 100.

In one nip and tuck race at Dundrod in 2008, Lougher narrowly held on for victory in the 125 race by only 0.052s, with Michael Dunlop completing the top three, 29.5 seconds back.

Lougher – who famously beat Steve Hislop in an epic race to win the Junior TT in 1990 – told the News Letter: “We had quite a few close races at Dundrod and the Southern 100 and there was never any problem racing with William, he was great that way.

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Race winner Ian Lougher with runner-up William Dunlop (right) and his brother Michael following the 125cc race at the Ulster Grand Prix in 2008.

“One of the things I remember about him was the way he used to get so tucked in on his bikes – all the bikes, from the two-strokes to the 600 and the big bikes.

“That probably comes from his two-stroke days and William was a lot taller than me, but he had a really nice style. He carried a lot of corner speed too, which comes from riding 125 and 250 bikes.

“He led me in one race at Dundrod and he actually got away from me and was probably going to win it to be honest, but then his bike broke down with a lap and a bit to go. We had another really close race, wheel to wheel (in 125 class in 2008) when there was nothing in it,” he added.

“I remember one 600 race that springs to mind, probably around 2008 or 2009, when William passed me into what is now known as Lougher’s corner at Dundrod – a really fast corner, my favourite – and William passed underneath me.

“He was absolutely committed with his elbows and everything tucked in and he was right on the very edge of the tyre. It was almost scary because you would knock off just a little bit on the 600, but he was absolutely flat-out underneath me. It wasn’t dangerous or anything because he knew what he was doing, but it was just a sight to behold.”

Lougher (55) came out of retirement to race the 500 Suter at the TT in 2016 and is a regular competitor at the Classic TT.

He admits it is ‘almost impossible’ to quit the sport.

“It’s almost impossible to walk away because there is just so much passion involved. Racing has been my life and it was the same with Robert and Joey – the will to win drives you on, not just a love for riding a motorbike,” he said.

“It’s almost like a tribute to the ones that have gone before to keep going. The others wouldn’t want you to jack it in but the ones you feel sorry for are the ones left sitting on the sidelines, like Louise Dunlop and William’s family. It’s sad, but what can you say.”