|Joey Dunlop Tribute from the TT Website
As Reported in The
Joey was killed in
race only weeks after pals urged him to quit sport
By JOHN ROBERTS
MOTORCYCLING legend Joey
Dunlop was killed in a crash in Estonia yesterday - less than a month after
friends had begged him to quit the sport.
The tragedy happened in a
torrential downpour in a 125cc race around a road circuit in Tallinn.
spokesman for the Estonian event said Dunlop had just won a superbike race but
went off the road on a corner in the next and crashed into a tree, dying
Only last month, at the Isle of Man TT races, some of
racing's top names had pleaded with the 48-year-old Irishman to leave the sport
he had dominated for 25 years.
Former world super bike champion Carl
Fogarty said then: "I think Joey should pack it in because I can see him being
badly hurt. No one wants to see a legend killed."
And, last night,
Dunlop's former rival Phillip McCallen said: "I retired this year because I
thought it was the right time to get out.
"We all felt perhaps Joey had
gone on too long and his reflexes might not have been as good as they were. "I
am just shattered that the legend is no more."
Retirement was clearly
on Dunlop's mind last month when he said at the Isle of Man: "The TT has been
good to me over the years and now, if I didn't want to race, I could just park
the bike and not compete.
"I feel good at the moment but I am getting on. I
forget the number of times I have been told it's about time I stopped
"I will have to retire soon, but there are a few more racing
days in me yet."
Dunlop, from Ballymoney, County Antrim, had nothing to
prove in the sport.
He won a record 26 TT races and was world champion
for five consecutive years from 1982 to 1986.
But instead of leaving the
sport to concentrate on running his pub, Joey's Bar in Ballymoney, he took the
ill-fated trip to Estonia.
William Joseph Dunlop, OBE, MBE, the
greatest TT rider in history, was born in Ballymoney on February 25, 1952. He
began his racing career at 17 on a Triumph Tiger Cub.
But it was in
1976 that he first tried to conquer the Isle of Man's mountain course on a
He scored his first victory the following year, on a
750cc Yamaha in the Jubilee Classic, after being shown the best lines around
the hair-raising circuit in a car the night before.
In 1981, he became a
works Honda rider to kick-start his most successful period.
career went on hold after a crash at Brands Hatch in 1989, though it was hard
to keep him away.
He even turned up at the TT festival that year on
crutches, pleading to be allowed to race.
It was the only TT he had
missed since 1976. During his career, he suffered a catalogue of injuries.
They included a cracked pelvis, broken collarbone, and the loss of part
of his wedding ring finger.
But he could never resist the pull of TT
racing, particularly in his later years.
After notching three more
victories last month, he said: "I'm aware every rider is out to beat Joey
Dunlop. If they can get by me, it leaves most happy but that's what motivates
At the same festival his major rival, David Jeffries, 27, said:
"As he has shown us all - most of us half his age - you just dare not write him
"The Isle of Man is like his own personal stage.
there is undoubtedly only one star on it. Him."
Dunlop was awarded the
MBE for his motorcyling exploits and the OBE for charity work.
leaves a widow Linda and children Julie, Donna, Gary, Richard and