Gary Dunlop son of the legendary 26 times TT winner Joey Dunlop, is all set for the MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix, as he makes his debut on the fastest road racing circuit in the world, Dundrod.
Set to compete in the Dundrod 150 and Ulster GP ultra lightweight races on a RS 125 Honda, supplied by his cousin William Dunlop, Gary’s maiden entry into competition at an international road race, will be watched closely by many.
Photo courtesy of Page McLaughlin
Holding the historic number three plate that we all associate with his dad Joey, it’s already one of the great moments of the 2016 MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix.
This year has seen Gary take to pure road racing, making his roads debut at the Mid Antrim 150 and since competing at the Tandragee 100, Cookstown 100, Skerries and Armoy Road Races.
Currently holding sixth position in the Irish road race 125/Moto 3 championship, he has the talent, determination and drive to secure highly notable results at the world’s fastest road race.
Commenting on his upcoming Ulster GP debut, Gary said:
“I have so many childhood memories running about Dundrod; I grew up there. Playing in the wee stream down the bottom of the paddock, messing about on the bicycle in round where the scrutineering bay is, and obviously watching all those great races through the 80’s and 90’s. It’s like a home from home for me.
The memories I have of my Dad racing there are ridiculous. He has the record for the most number of wins at Dundrod but it’s not just that, I know everybody probably thinks it’s the TT and he did love the TT, but Dundrod was his favourite course.
I mean, everybody that’s really interested in road racing is going to say that this is their favourite, it’s pretty much agreed between all the riders, all the big riders, that this is the place they love most.
The memories are there every year, my Dad came away pretty much every time with something and it means a lot to me to race this track. I love it just the way he did.
Noel, the clerk of course, has given me rider number 3. I wasn’t too sure about it at first as it’s my Dad’s number and it’s a bit strange for me but it’s a nice legacy and if it helps give a bit of publicity for the 125 class and the Ulster Grand Prix then I’m happy.
Because it’s so fast I’m actually a wee bit wary, I’ve never ridden a circuit as fast as this before, nothing even close to it.
I don’t actually think I’ll be that good straight away. I had thought about doing a fast short circuit somewhere before the Ulster but because I’m running so many bikes I haven’t the time to get anything done.
Saying that, I know every corner on this circuit but riding round it on a bike is going to be a completely different story.”
Stating who he believes will be right at the sharp end of the ultra lightweight Dundrod 150 and Ulster Grand Prix encounters, Gary stated:
“There’s so much competition in the ultra lightweight class this year. Christian Elkin has to be the favourite with the Moto 3, Sam Wilson if he’s in the mood he’s just in a different level.
Paul Jordan’s brilliant, Adam McLean, Nigel Moore, Paul Robinson and Derek McGee will be up there. There’s just so many boys that could win it and that’s what we want to see, it’s great for the fans.
There are so many 2 stroke fans there as well. The 2 strokes have been suffering a bit for a few years now and getting a bit of a knock from people who maybe don’t understand them as well so it’s going to be good seeing so many back out on the grid.”
When asked what his main aims are at Dundrod, Gary said:
“My aim is just to get round in one piece and enjoy it to be honest. And it’s not just me to think about, I have young Sam Wilson riding for the team, Derek McGee is riding one of the nights for us and my cousin Paul is riding another night.
I’ve another two cousins out there too. It’s great to get good results but I don’t really set any goals. Everybody getting back safe after a good day on the track is what makes me happy.”
Ulster Grand Prix, Clerk of the Course, Noel Johnston added:
“I was delighted when Gary decided to put his entry in. He’s a great lad with a lot of family history at the circuit, making him one of the highest profile newcomers we’ve ever had. I know he has been itching to get here and give it a go.
It’s a very competitive class he’s riding in, and it goes without saying how fast the circuit is, but he has his head screwed on and I know he won’t put himself under any unnecessary pressure to get results.
Having said that, he’s got the Dunlop blood running through his veins and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t perform well.
I think there will be more than a few people who will be happy to see that famous yellow helmet flying around the circuit once more.”
Words by Stevie Rial