Joey and Robert side by side again

BALLYMONEY is a mecca for motorcycle fans particularly during North West 200 week.

And this year a new attraction will greet them in the town - a sculpture of the legendary Mighty Micro Robert Dunlop.

The statue of the late road racing superstar was unveiled in his hometown back in March.

The impressive bronze sculpture of Robert in his racing leathers - funded by charity donations from bike fans and the local community - was hailed as the “important last piece in the jigsaw” of the memorial to the legendary Dunlop brothers.

Robert’s statue now stands in a dedicated remembrance garden, adjacent to the garden and statue of his brother Joey, which has already been visited by thousands of motorcycling fans from around the world.

Father-of-three Robert, who was 47 when he died, won a record 15 races at the North West 200, while Joey managed 13 first-place finishes at the Portrush showpiece.

Robert’s son Michael said the statue was a “fitting tribute” and completed the memorial.

“I suppose in a way this is the last piece in the jigsaw for the memorial to our father,” he said.

“It is an emotional occasion, but it also a fitting tribute to his achievements and it completes the memorial to both my father and Joey.”

Michael who - in his own right - has also become a household name in the road racing circuit, alongside his brother William, said he is constantly reminded of the legendary status of his father Robert and Joey.

“Being involved in bike racing you are always meeting people who ask about my father and Joey.

“But I have travelled to many countries, where some people don’t know anything about road-racing or motorbikes, yet they know about the Dunlop brothers.

“For some people they are to motorcycling, what George Best was to football, and that is something which makes us very proud.

“We are just happy that the memorials are now complete and people can now come and visit. The people who organised the fundraising for the statue and the sculptor deserve a lot of praise for what they have done,” he added.

William Dunlop said: “The sculpture is brilliant, it is a real credit to the sculptor and I know the family is very happy with it.

“It is really good to see how much our father’s achievement meant to the people of Ballymoney, they have contributed so generously to rasing money for the statue.

“We also know how much effort Liam Beckett and many other people have made in raising money for this and they have done a wonderful job.”