NW200: Michael Dunlop's famous 250 victory is stuff of legend

May 17, 2008. Anyone who witnessed it will never forget it.

A 19-year-old Michael Dunlop, reeling from the death of his father less than two days previously following a crash in practice for the 250cc class at the North West 200, went out and won the race to pay the ultimate tribute to his father.

The start of the 250cc race at the North West 200 in 2008.

The start of the 250cc race at the North West 200 in 2008.

His older brother William also intended to race that day but was cruelly ruled out with a machine problem.

Following a battle with English rider Christian Elkin, Michael overcame the greatest challenge of his career to claim a heart-wrenching victory on the very circuit that was so often the theatre in which Robert achieved his greatest feats.

Fighting back the tears on that emotional morning ten years ago, Michael said: “I couldn’t let William go out there and race on his own. It’s great for a Dunlop to win. I wanted to do it for my dad and I did it.

“I found myself in front on the last lap and I thought ‘there’s no point in stopping now’. I had my spot picked out and it worked,” he added.

Michael Dunlop crosses the line to win the 250cc race at the North West 200 in 2008. His father, Robert, was killed in practice for the race less than 48 hours earlier.

Michael Dunlop crosses the line to win the 250cc race at the North West 200 in 2008. His father, Robert, was killed in practice for the race less than 48 hours earlier.

“I’m so proud and I want to thank everyone for their support. My dad was the best around here.”

Elkin, who had won the 250cc race the previous year, said Dunlop had been a deserving winner.

“He was riding with his heart and you have to give it to him for riding out there after what happened to his father. We were both riding hard but he got the better of me, so fair play to him.”

Morecambe’s John McGuinness completed the rostrum in third place on Clive Padgett’s Honda and said witnessing the young Dunlop’s victory was something that would live with him forever.

“My bike was good and the race could have gone either way. All three of us were riding hard but it was fantastic for Michael Dunlop to get the win and he thoroughly deserved it.

“Seeing all those fans waving their programmes around the circuit is something that will stay in my mind forever.”

Under the circumstances, Dunlop’s staggering victory that day almost defies belief.

History will remember it as one of the greatest sporting victories ever accomplished by a competitor from these shores.