Manxman Dan Kneen got his 2015 Isle of Man TT week underway on Sunday afternoon and the Braddan rider didn’t disappoint with a strong seventh place in the 6-lap Superbike TT race.
Riding the Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Honda, an opening lap of 129.189mph was just a fraction outside his personal best set 12 months ago and it placed him in seventh place and ahead of fellow Manx rider Conor Cummins. Despite lapping in excess of 127mph, Dan slipped back to ninth at the end of the second lap when he made his first of two pit stops but by half race distance he was back up to eighth.
That became seventh again on lap four but half way round the final lap, he was up to sixth and splitting the BMWs of William Dunlop and Michael Rutter. But with less than two miles to go, the race was red flagged due to an incident involving Michael Dunlop and a slower rider. And although Dan was in sixth and ahead of Rutter at Cronk ny Mona, he had to stop whereas Rutter was able to complete his lap. That meant that he was awarded seventh place and despite his and the team's obvious unhappiness, the result stood.
Dan Kneen: “I enjoyed the race and although I felt like I was trying a bit too hard at the beginning, I settled down as best I could and let the race come to me. It was difficult to know how hard to push at times but I focused on building up my speed as the race wore on and although I thought I’d got sixth sewn up, the red flag put paid to that and I had to accept seventh.”
“I passed through the incident but wasn’t able to complete the lap as I got stopped at Governor’s Bridge. It’s a shame but it’s a solid start and solid result. The bike was working well and it’s nice to get a full race distance under my belt so a big thanks to the team for giving me a great bike. It gives me a good platform to build on and we have plenty of races still to go.”
As I write this I'm sat in the hyperbaric chamber giving my foot injury a boost of oxygen and physio before TT, as my strength has taken longer to get back to normal than I thought.
I've just arrived home after the NW 200, it's not always been my favourite event due to the difficulty of competing as a privateer but now I have a top team around me things were going to be different and I could have a better run at it. It didn't go as well as I had hoped as we had a few electrical issues which tended to raise their head during races and not when the team wanted to fix them, which made it hard work for them!
When things were going our way my pace was good. I was glad to be back out as the Padgett's bikes were real good and I needed the bike time pre TT. I was running top 6 positions in Superstock 600 and top 7 in Superbike until misfortune struck, so I was happy with my pace even though the bikes don't feel my own yet! Overall I was happy with my performances and the team worked their socks off, even when things were going wrong. I'm glad things worked out as they did as I feel really at home now in the Padgett's team and I can't wait for TT.
Thanks to all my fans for their support during the Northwest. I hope to see you all here in ten days time, as it's not to be missed.
Dan Kneen was back in action at the weekend, contesting the second round of the Pirelli National Superstock 1000cc Championship at Brands Hatch and although he was unable to replicate the finish of two weeks ago, the Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Honda rider still took a strong top 20 finish.
As expected, it was extremely tight around the small, 1.2-mile Indy circuit with the whole field split by only three seconds and after placing 28th in the opening qualifying session, Dan lapped almost half a second quicker in Saturday’s second session. Although this kept him in the same position, he was only 1.5s adrift of pole position and another half second would have put him comfortably inside the top 15.
Confident of a good result, a good start was always going to be crucial for the Manxman and he did exactly that to move inside the top 20 at the completion of the first lap. With the whole field evenly matched, there was little to choose between any of the riders and overtaking was proving difficult as Dan found. However, lapping over half a second than what he had done in qualifying he put in a solid performance on the Honda and crossed the line in 19th place, only five seconds adrift of tenth.
Dan Kneen: “It was a good, enjoyable race although I was a little bit disappointed that I didn’t make the most of the bike with new tyres at the beginning of the race. I made a good start and tried to stay out of trouble on the first lap, quickly latching on to the back of a train of riders. Johnny Blackshaw had a couple of moments in front of me though and by the time I’d got by, I'd lost the tow a bit to the group in front of me. I lapped half a second quicker in the race that I had done in qualifying though and on the last lap of the race, I was the fourth fastest rider on track so if I could just have got stuck in a bit more in the first few laps, I think I could have scored some more points.”
“Like I say, I really enjoyed the race and it was a decent result given I’m still a bit rusty and getting back up to bike fitness. We ran a similar set-up to what Glen Richards ran last year and we’re just trying to get the bike suited to my style at the moment but we’re moving forward all the time. I’m learning the bike all the time and these first two Superstock rounds have certainly served their purpose as we’ve got in plenty of track time on the bike. I’m now looking forward to getting on the other bikes and preparing further still for the North West 200 and TT.”
Dan now heads to Castle Combe with the team where he’ll be testing the Superbike, Supersport and Superstock machines in preparation for next month’s International North West 200 road races.
Picture by Tim Keeton – Impact Images Photography
Pirelli National Superstock 1000cc Championship (24 laps)
1 Josh Elliott (Kawasaki)
2 Adam Jenkinson (Yamaha)
3 Hudson Kennaugh (BMW)
4 James Rose (Kawasaki)
5 Alastair Seeley (BMW)
6 Jesse Trayler (Kawasaki)
19 Dan Kneen (Valvoline Racing by Padgetts Honda)
Championship standings (after two rounds)
1 Elliott 45pts
2 Kennaugh 41
3 Jenkinson 33
4 Seeley 27
5 Quigley 19
6 Trayler 16
11 Kneen 8
For 2015, Dan is proud to announce his support from Planet Knox, the company behind the award winning Knox body armour.
Dan will be wearing the awesome Knox Handroid gloves, Knox bodyarmour and other items of Knox motorcycle clothing, including their excellent range of base layers, ideal to wear under leathers.
For more information on the Knox range, please visit their website at planet-knox.com