Keep ‘er Lit – 16.07.18

This is one of the most difficult columns I have had to write. Firstly, I want to send my heartfelt sympathies to the families, friends and teams of William Dunlop and James Cowton.

Personally, I feel deeply saddened after recent events resulting in the loss of 2 very modest and genuine lads, as people say, doing what they loved doing. I only hope that provides some comfort to their nearest and dearest.

This isn’t only a personal blow but a massive blow to road racing and the shockwaves have been felt amongst the entire racing community.

Much has been said about William in the past week. However, from my perspective as a race organiser, he was a gem. When I say he was a gem, it wasn’t for his endless chat! No that had to be dragged out of him – in public anyway! However, his smile was worth a thousand words. His body language and willingness to keep the race fans of all ages happy with photographs and autographs was priceless. Nothing was ever a bother to him. Anything that I ever asked of him he delivered and if for some reason he couldn’t he was very apologetic and was willing to reschedule for another time. On a one to one basis William was full of witty chat and all he needed was cousin Gary there to keep the whole thing going. We’ve had plenty of banter about football and, as he was a real Spurs fan, I always liked reminding him about how bad they are. Life for William just looked so complete after he met Janine and little Ella came along. It was clear to see he doted on her. He had become a real family man. I don’t want to sound biased in anyway but around Dundrod he was something else! The fast flowing corners suited his riding style, he got tucked in and just looked so smooth. If it hadn’t been for a few minor errors at the Lindsay hairpin in the closing stages of a few races I’ve no doubt his win tally around Dundrod would be a lot more.

I first met James quite a few years ago in the TT paddock. I managed to convince him and his dad to give Dundrod a go. It became clear from this conversation just how close James and his dad were. James made his debut at Dundrod in 2014 and since then he has had several podium finishes. Just last year he teamed up with local based McAdoo Racing. This partnership was fully deserved and gave James the acknowledgement and recognition for his talents.

Both will be sorely missed.

My thoughts are also with the family, friends and team of Ivan Linton, I hope Ivan makes a full and speedy recovery.

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