Michael Dunlop says he has 'learned to deal' with personal tragedies in road racing

Michael Dunlop has experienced unthinkable tragedy in road racing but the Northern Ireland rider says he has ‘learned to deal’ with the cruel side of the sport he loves.

Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 5:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 5:21 pm
An emotional Michael Dunlop after winning his 19th Isle of Man TT in 2019.

The 19-time Isle of Man TT winner has lost his uncle Joey, father Robert and brother William as a result of motorcycle racing accidents, but while many others may have walked away from road racing in similar circumstances, the 31-year-old has continued to race on.

He achieved his 19th victory at the TT in 2019, becoming the third most successful rider in the history of the event behind Joey (26 wins) and Englishman John McGuinness (23 wins).

And while Dunlop admits road racing, and in particular the TT, has been ‘good to me’, he knows better than anyone the harsh reality of the sport when things go wrong.

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“I’ve a couple of lap records and I’ve had good times at the Isle of Man over a very short space of time, and it’s been good to me,” said Dunlop, speaking to Line of Duty actor Adrian Dunbar for the Channel 5 series ‘Adrian Dunbar’s Coastal Ireland’.

“Personally, if you were to sit down, I don’t think in other sport, any other person would probably go through what I went through to a degree, and come back from it. But I’ve learned now to deal with the effects and I’m not bothered by the outcome any more, what will be, will be,” he added.

“Motorbikes on one hand have been very good to me, but also it’s been very bad to me as well, but that’s choices in life – you’ve got to take it on the chin.”

Enniskillen native Dunbar popped into Dunlop’s workshop during filming for the second episode of the series – available on Channel 5’s catch-up service – where he was impressed by his collection of TT-winning motorcycle fairings.

“I’ve all the fairings from the bikes I’ve won on at the TT: any of the Superbikes that I’ve had, I’ve always had it put in the contract that I wanted the fairing off it if I won a race,” Dunlop said, “They’re nice to have.”

Dunlop raced sparingly in 2020 with most road races, including the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT, cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He competed in a few rounds of the National Superstock 1000 Championship on the Buildbase Suzuki and also made a rare appearance at an Ulster Superbike meeting at Kirkistown in Co Down last September, where he won both Supersport races.

The 2021 road racing season has been hit hard once more as a result of the ongoing impact of coronavirus this year, although Dunlop is entered to compete at the Daytona 200 in Florida in March.

His home meeting at Armoy, where he has won the feature ‘Race of Legends’ eight times in a row, is currently scheduled to go ahead in July, while the Cookstown 100 has been postponed until September.

Along with the North West and TT, all other Irish national races have been called off, with the exception of the Skerries 100 in July, while a final decision on the Classic TT and Manx Grand Prix is expected before the end of March.

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