Dan Kneen claimed his first ever International road race victory as he got the better of Dean Harrison in Saturday's Metzeler Ulster Grand Prix Superstock race by just 0.001s, the closest ever finish in the history of the event. The lead changed hands three to four times every lap with Bruce Anstey also in the mix and just 0.107s covered the trio at the chequered flag.
The Manxman was ecstatic afterwards telling Bikesportnews.com,
"It was a tight old race and Dean was quicker in some places and I was quicker in others so neither of us could ever get a good run. It must have been great to watch as we were swapping position all the time and although it was damp in places, the intermediate tyres were awesome and there was plenty of grip. The only major problem was not knowing whether or not it was the last lap as there was no flag so I was just hoping the lads had got it right on the pit board."
The race was initially stopped after one lap due to rain when Harrison had a five second lead but on the re-start, the Bradford rider again grabbed the lead but, with a drying track, it was a lot closer this time around and just one and a half seconds split Harrison, Kneen and Anstey at the end of the lap. Guy Martin held onto fourth ahead of Lee Johnston and Michael Dunlop, the latter having visor issues just before the lights turned green.
Second time around and Harrison's lead over Kneen was just 0.04s with Anstey only half a second further back but behind the margins were getting greater, Martin now over five seconds adrift. The front three were exchanging positions all the time but Kneen ran wide at the hairpin which allowed Harrison to re-take the lead and as they started the penultimate lap, there was still nothing in it. Johnston and Dunlop were both out of luck though retiring to the pits.
Going into the final lap, the leading trio came along the Flying Kilo three abreast and Kneen hit the front at Rock Bends only for Harrison to fght back at Deer's Leap. Kneen re-took the lead at Cochranstown before Harrison went ahead at Ireland's and then Kneen was back ahead approaching the hairpin. Harrison dived up the inside and looked like he might have done enough but Kneen closed in through Quarry Bends and went round the outside of Harrison as they flashed across the line with Anstey opting for the inside line. Everyone waited for the timing screens and Kneen, recently crowned Irish Superbike Champio got the verdict from Harrison and Anstey.
Further back, Stephen Thompson came through to steal a strong fourth on the final lap with Peter Hickman four tenths further back in fifth with Martin fading to sixth. Rob Barber, Russ Mountford, Ivan Lintin and Steve Mercer rounded out the top ten.
I'm just back at Cookstown from another great meeting, The Faugheen 50 at the weekend, it hasn't been run for 5 years due to lack of funds so I wasn't the only newcomer there for once which was handy. The track was another short one with 1.15 lap times but there is a bit of everything thrown in and was fairly bumpy which made it tricky too.
The 600 went well but with me making a mistake In practice I was 5th on the grid but managed to get a good start and pushed Magee for 2 laps until he over shot allowing me to take the win.
On the twin I haven't really had a good run all year on her as we've had a lot of issues but now some of them are put to bed I've been able to up my pace.
There was 3 of us who broke the lap record in practice me ending up second so I knew it would be a good race. Another good start saw me and Magee setting the pace, he slowly crept away so I had to settle for second.
The SBK which I have really enjoyed riding this year I ended up pole on, I got another good start in the open race, pulled a good 7 second lead over Shiels and kept that to the end taking the win and the Irish Superbike Championship with a round left. If you'd of asked me at the start of the year would I have won it I'd say no way as there's a lot of boys raced these tracks before and I would of thought I didn't have the experience on them, so I'm made up now.
Once I had that wrapped up I could just go have some fun in the Grand Final, I got away at the front and kept my head down I opened up a 6 second lead before a bird hit my brake lever coming up to one of the road ends, the wings were sticking out between my fingers and guts everywhere, once I shook that off I had to open up a lead again and went on to win, taking man of the meeting for the first time this year which was good.
As I write this the the boys are busy once again getting things prepped for the UGP so thanks to them and all my sponsors.
Images: Baylon McCaughey - IrishRacePhotography.com