Motorcycle champion Michael Dunlop has spoken of his passion for the sport despite the heartache it has caused his family.
e says that even after tragically losing her father, uncle and brother, “we ride motorcycles because we love them.”
The 19-time Isle of Man TT winner is back on the Mountain Course this year after a three-year hiatus caused by the pandemic.
His brother William was killed in an accident at the Skerries circuit four years ago. His uncle Joey, who died in an accident in Estonia in July 2000, holds the record for the most TT wins – an astonishing 26. His father Robert, who also died in an accident at the 2008 North West 200, won five .
Michael (33) claimed his first success just a year after his father’s tragic death and has since won victories every year, including memorable quadruples in 2013 and 2014.
Michael’s current tally brings the family total to 50, following four Superbike wins, three Senior TT triumphs, three Superstock wins, seven Supersport wins and two Lightweight Supertwins wins in 2018 and 2019.
During a recent interview with the Isle of Man TT racing website, he said: “I don’t think any family in the world would have gone through what our family has been through and still have the desire to get up in the morning and run. a motorcycle.
“We ride bikes because we love them, and I think that proves that you’re just in it because you love it.
“Sometimes it’s hard to love something that can be so cruel – if it wasn’t for the pure love of the bike, you wouldn’t be subjecting yourself to torture.”
This year, Michael will ride a Suzuki Hawk Racing for Superbike and Senior, a Honda for Superstock, Yamaha is his weapon of choice for Supersport and a Paton for Supertwins.
He currently holds the Supersport class lap record at an average speed of 129.179mph, but believes that benchmark could be under threat this year.
He said: “That 600 laps was fast. I did 128 in 2013 and 129 in 2018, so getting a 600 to do 129 was pretty cool.
“The speeds should be faster now because they’ve done a lot of resurfacing, a lot of re-tarring.
“The bikes haven’t really changed much but they’ve done a fantastic job with the track, making the places better than they’ve ever been.
“In the Superstock category, everyone is on the same thing and the rules of the game are level.
“You know where you are, the best man wins.
“I know there are different manufacturers, but anyone can buy one and make the changes allowed. This gives everyone a free chance to try.
The Ballymoney driver said all competitors push the limits of what they can do in every race.
“You ride a motorcycle as hard as you can. You’re on the edge, I don’t care what anyone says,” he said.
“The limit is confidence, where your confidence will take you is the limit you can go.
“When you put on that helmet, everybody pushes – the boy from 50 pushes, everybody’s at their own limit.”