With conditions very wet on Friday in north county Dublin, Skerries 100 newcomer Dan Kneen was restricted to just fifteen laps of mild paced controlled practice laps, writes Baylon McCaughey.
Consequently, Kneen started race day with absolutely no experience of race pace on the tricky 2.9 miles circuit that is notoriously difficult to master.
However, all year Kneen has proved himself to be a fast learner and once again he defied the odds and capped another great day for Cookstown B.E. Racing with a Grand Final victory over his team mate Michael Sweeney and reigning Irish Champion Derek Sheils.
Kneen started the day with a fifth place in the Superbike Championship race. The championship leader took things steady as he got to grips with his new surroundings and finished behind Jamie Hamilton, Sheils, Sweeney and the evergreen Davy Morgan.
Kneen had Dennis Booth to thank for his participation in the race, fellow racer Booth donating an electrical part which kept the Cookstown B.E. Racing Suzuki 1000 running at full power.
Kneen was maybe too anxious to impress when he lined up for the Supersport 600 race which was won by Suzuki’s William Dunlop. The Manxman led on lap one but overshot one of the road ends. By the time Kneen rejoined the action the leading pack was gone and he had to settle for a safe ninth place.
Kneen’s third race of the day was the Supertwins race and he finished fifth. Any hopes he had of a top three finish were diminished by a slight overheating problem which drained power from his Kawasaki 650.
Known for rising for the occasion, Kneen kept his best performance for the feature Grand Final. The thousands of fans were treated to an epic dual between Kneen and Hamilton with the race culminating with a dramatic last lap.
Kneen moved ahead on the last lap before Hamilton’s last gasp move at the Cricket Club ended in disaster. The Ballyclare star appeared to clip the rear of Kneen’s machine before crashing and sustaining quite serious injuries. Kneen therefore won the race from Sweeney and Sheils.
The low point of the day for the Cookstown B.E. team was Michael Sweeney’s crash in the 250GP race. Despite the mishap, Sweeney still tops the 250 points table.
Before setting off for the Isle of Man for the Southern 100 races, team owner John Burrows said: “Dan just continues to amaze everyone with his ability to learn new circuits.
“To win the Grand Final at Skerries after very limited practice is arguably his best achievement of the season. Dan and Jamie provided us all with great entertainment in the feature race and it’s a pity Jamie crashed out. Dan and I both hope he makes a speedy recovery and is back in action soon.”
Cookstown B.E. Racing is sad to report the death of a good friend. Tom Cardwell from Sandholes succumbed to illness in the early hours of July 6th. Tom, especially well known in Classic racing circles, was regularly involved in the preparation of John Burrows’ machinery over a number of years. Sincere condolences to all his friends and family.