Crash.net
How did it feel to win your first international Superbike race this year at the North West 200?

William Dunlop:
It was good for the team to get that Superbike win at the North West 200 and it was a bit of a surprise I suppose because we probably weren't going there expecting to win a Superbike race.

I hadn't realised it, but it had been 20 years since a Dunlop had won a Superbike race at the North West [when Robert Dunlop did the double in 1994] and it was nice to be the first one of us to do that since my dad won.

It was nice for me because I never actually thought I'd win a Superbike race at the North West - I thought maybe I'd have a chance at the Isle of Man TT or Ulster Grand Prix, but not at the North West.

It meant I'd completed the set as well, because I'd also won the 125cc, 250cc and 600cc races at the North West and none of us had ever done that before, not even my dad or Joey. My dad never rode a 600 so that's the only reason he never won there on one!

Crash.net
You managed to lead the Senior TT race for almost a full lap until a crash ended your chances. Did your performance remove any doubts that you can challenge in the Superbike class for wins as well as on the 600?

William Dunlop:
Obviously I had my crash at the TT in the Senior race but I can take the positives out of it because on the first lap I had a board saying I was 'P1' at the Creg. Usually I'm able to lead on the big bike in the first sector [at Glen Helen] because I'm good on that section of the course, but then I tend to lose out on all the bumpy stuff.

So to be leading at the Creg on the first lap was brilliant and then I did another lap and saw 'P2' at Ballaugh Bridge, so it proved to me that I could run at the front on the Superbike and it was brilliant for that reason. The best thing about it was that I was well within my comfort zone.

I lapped at 130.8mph from a standing start in the Senior and that was even after I made a mistake in the final sector; I just messed up my braking a bit going through the Nook section and ran wide.

I know now that I can lap at 131mph and the good thing is that I know I wasn't pushing over my maximum, I know I've got more left.

Crash.net
It seems you feel this year was the year that you made a breakthrough in the Superbike class on the Mountain Course?

William Dunlop:
I definitely had a big doubt over whether or not I could get up to that kind of pace that you need to be winning on the big bike at the TT, lapping at 130mph and 131mph. I managed 130mph on the Milwaukee Yamaha R1 last year but at the time I felt that was as fast as I could go.

On Wilson Craig's Honda, which was another good bike, I was lapping at 128mph and I felt I was pushing at the limit. Then all through practice this year on the Suzuki I couldn't get above 128mph and it was in my mind that maybe that was as fast as I could be.

But then we made a couple of changes after the first Superbike race and something just clicked with the bike and myself. Until then I knew I was good enough to win on the 600 but it was gutting to think that maybe I wasn't good enough on the Superbike, so to make that jump from 128mph up to almost 131mph was a big thing for me and now I'll be going to the TT next year with a different attitude because I know I can do the speeds.

Crash.net
There's been heavy speculation linking TAS Racing to BMW for 2015 in a change from Suzuki. Are you able to say anything about that?

William Dunlop:
My plans aren't finalised for next year and it could be in the New Year before I know what I'm doing. But my attitude now is that I can match the best at the TT on the Superbike and I'll be aiming for the podium at least if everything is right. I want to remain with the same team and everything worked really well for me this year.

One year you can go to the TT and it could be a disaster and then the following year everything could just click into place - it's just that kind of place, you never really know what you're going to get with it but I'm definitely looking for that first win next year.

Crash.net
Were you surprised by how competitive you found Suzuki's GSX-R600 to be on the roads this year, given that some critics suggested it wouldn't be as strong as Honda and Yamaha's Supersport bikes?

William Dunlop:
I was disappointed with how I performed on the 600 at the TT but I didn't spend enough time on the bike in practice. It had been so good at the North West that I felt I'd just be able to jump on it and go fast. I concentrated on the big bike instead and then we had some teething problems with the 600 and it was too late then.

The 600 Suzuki was far better than I ever expected it to be and even from the North West I was surprised by the bike because it was so strong. I regret it now that I neglected the wee bike at the TT to focus on the Superbike but it worked both ways, because if I hadn't concentrated mainly on the Superbike then I wouldn't have had that good run in the Senior before my crash and I probably wouldn't have got that lap at nearly 131mph.

We made a change to the 600 for the second race, which was a bit of a small gamble, but it worked [Dunlop finished third] and the times that we did on the bike would've been good enough to have given us a win in the first race.

It was disappointing overall though because I think the bike was better than the results I got on it at the TT.
Then at the Ulster Grand Prix I was leading the 600 race on the last lap when it packed in, otherwise we've had ended the year with a win.

Crash.net
Did you fit in well with the TAS Racing team and what was it like having Guy Martin as your team-mate?

William Dunlop:
The team were brilliant and that was one of the best things this year. Working with Philip [Neill] was really good and there was never a problem over anything I asked for; the attitude was that if you need something, you'll get it and that's what made me happy - I wasn't being told what to do, I was able to say what I wanted.

I had a familiar face in the garage because I was able to bring Alastair Russell with me and it meant he was there to listen to me if I had any problems and Leigh Finlay and Mark McKeever were good to work with as well; we had a good laugh too and everyone got on well.

No matter what was happening next year, I've wanted to stay within that team regardless because I got on so well with everyone.

Guy kept himself to himself really but we shared data without any issues. Stewart Johnstone [Crew Chief] was looking after the whole team in that respect and all the information was shared. It was the first time I'd worked with someone who spoke so openly about data and it wasn't about one rider getting a result, it was about the team getting a result and no-one was trying to hide anything.

There was no bullshit with Guy either, he was good to work with and didn't try to make excuses; if you beat him then his attitude was, 'fair play, you rode better than me'.

Crash.net
How much did your injuries from the crash at the TT hold you back in the second part of the season?

William Dunlop:
I was disappointed to miss the Southern 100 because I'd been looking forward to it beforehand. I haven't rode a Superbike at Billown in about three years now because I didn't have the Milwaukee Superbike for the event last year and then the year before that I was injured after a crash at Skerries.

So it was disappointing not to get out there again, especially with Guy doing so well over there too. I rode at Walderstown before the Southern but I just wouldn't have been fit enough to do the bikes justice at Billown and I didn't want to go there and let everyone down.

The only national race that I wanted to do but didn't get to do was Killalane and that was only because it clashed with a British Superbike round. I was able to get to the ones I wanted to do but I was disappointed at Skerries because I'd have liked to have rode the Superbike there, but we still won the 600 race. I got a win on the big bike at Walderstown but at Armoy I was finding it hard riding the Superbike because I still wasn't feeling 100 per cent after my crash, but again we won in the 600 class because riding the wee bike wasn't as sore on me physically.

So we still had some decent results, especially on the 600, but it's just a shame I was struggling a bit with my injuries after the TT.

Crash.net
The Ulster Grand Prix has been a happy hunting ground for you in the past so how disappointed were you this year that the opportunity to end the season with a victory didn't materialise?

William Dunlop:
I had a bit of an infection during the Ulster Grand Prix and it meant that I wasn't able to ride the bikes the way I wanted to in practice; it was sapping all my energy and leaving me feeling tired. I should still have won the 600 race though and I was leading on the last lap from Bruce [Anstey] when the bike packed in. Bruce said he would've had a go at me at the Quarries but I think I had enough of a lead on him that I'd have been able to hold on for the win.

Philip was good enough to let me sit out the Superbike race that day to save myself for the 600 races but it ended up that the weather kind of ruined things and there only was one Superbike and 600 race overall.

I was gutted not to finish with another big win at the Ulster Grand Prix because I know I had the 600 race in the bag and it would've been a nice way to round off the season. It was a long, hard year and a win at Dundrod would have held me in good stead for 2015.

Crash.net
Thanks for your time William.

William Dunlop:
Not a problem at all.

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