William Dunlop secured the prestigious Duke Road Race Rankings Championship for 2015 emulating his younger brother Michael who took the title two years ago in 2013
The twenty-four round series which commenced at the Spring National Road Races at Oliver’s Mount in April and concluded at the recent Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix saw William having a season long battle with fellow ‘pure roads’ rising star Ivan Lintin which was only resolved at the final round in the Southern hemisphere when the chequered flag fell.
Lincolnshire rider Ivan Lintin, riding for the R&C Express Team took an early lead in the 2015 series after the opening round at the North Yorkshire venue remaining in front until the fourth round, the first of the International rounds, the North West 200, where seven-times Duke Rankings winner Ryan Farquhar took over at the top of the table.
Ian Hutchinson took over the helm after the Isle of Man TT Races only for Ivan to regain the leadership after the Barry Sheene Race Festival held at Oliver’s Mount, round nine – a lead he was to hold on to until the Ulster Grand Prix where William demoted him to second spot.
The Ballymoney rider continued to head the Duke Rankings as the European rounds were run and concluded once again at Oliver’s Mount for the International Steve Henshaw Gold Cup Road Races in September with a mere 24 points separating the pair after 23 rounds with only Macau remaining.
Neither William or Ivan had been invited to race at the tight, twisty closed public roads circuit, the Geoff Duke Trophy looked set to be returning to Ballymoney where it had spent 12 months, two years earlier.
Then Ivan Lintin received an invite to compete and his team R&C Express took up the offer. Ivan making his debut on the 3.8028-mile Circuit da Guia course had to finish in the top six to snatch the championship series from his Ballymoney rival.
In the event Ivan had a steady debut ride finishing in 18th position and finishing second in the Duke Road Race Rankings Championship.
William Dunlop opened his Duke Rankings account at the second round, the Cookstown 100 taking 13th spot in the table, quickly moving into third after a very wet Tandragee 100, the climbing to second after the North West 200.
His incident during the TT saw him drop to seventh before his return to action at the first of the Southern Ireland rounds, Kells, returning to second after the Skerries 100 Road Races.
Not being 100% fit, William chose to miss the Diamond Jubilee Southern 100, dropping him to fourth in the title chase, although after Walderstown he was up to third.
A double race victory and record lap at the ‘Race of Legends’ at Armoy, William was back in second spot and so to Dundrod and the Ulster Grand Prix in mixed conditions a 2nd; 4th; 5th; 6th & 10th was enough to put the Tyco Team rider at the top of the Duke Rankings.
Adding race wins at Faugheen and Killalane, William consolidated his lead at the head of the Duke Road Race Rankings and after 24 rounds has emerged as a worthy winner, becoming only the sixth rider to see his name engraved on the coveted Geoff Duke Trophy since the Championship Series started in 2002.
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