William Dunlop has been crowned the Duke Road Race Rankings champion for the first time in his career.
Dunlop was confirmed as the 2015 winner after last weekend’s final round at the Macau Grand Prix, securing the title by 24 points from RC Express Kawasaki’s Ivan Lintin.
The 30-year-old never made the trip to the Far East to compete in the season-ending road race at Macau, but with nearest challenger Lintin finishing 18th on his debut at the event, Dunlop’s points haul was enough to put the outcome beyond doubt.
The Duke Road Race Rankings series covered 24 rounds in total this year, kicking off with the Spring Cup meeting at Oliver’s Mount and covering the Irish National road races plus the main international meetings at the North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix and events including the Southern 100, Manx Grand Prix and Classic TT.
Dunlop joins his brother Michael on the roll of honour, who won the title for the first time himself in 2013.
Another Ulsterman, Ryan Farquhar, has lifted the famous trophy more times than any other rider since its inception in 2002, clinching the championship seven times in total and five times in succession between 2008 and 2012 – a feat that saw the Dungannon man awarded the coveted piece of silverware for keeps.
William becomes only the sixth different winner of the series, joining Farquhar, three-time winner Ian Lougher (2002, 2005, 2006), Manxman Conor Cummins (2007), his brother Michael (2013) and James Cowton, who was victorious in 2014.
The Ballymoney man went through the Irish National season unbeaten on the CD-IC Racing Yamaha R6 to collect the Irish Supersport crown for the first time in his career.
Dunlop also clinched the Superbike title on the Tyco BMW, although he was hit by misfortune at the internationals, with crashes at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT thwarting his hopes of more success on the big stage.
He has teamed up full-time with Randalstown’s Chris Dowd to ride a factory-spec Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike prepared by legendary German tuning guru Marcus Eschenbacher next year.
The 2016 deal means William will also have another opportunity to challenge for his maiden TT win on his favoured CD Racing Yamaha R6, which will once again be prepared by Eschenbacher.
Uncertainty remains over his brother Michael’s plans, although the 26-year-old continues to be linked with a return to Honda or a continuation of his association with Buildbase BMW.