Cookstown BE Racing start the season on the podium
JOHN Burrows’ Cookstown B.E. Racing team are expected to be at the forefront of road racing results this year but they proved they can mix it up on the short circuits too when they kicked off their 2014 campaign with a visit to the opening Mondello Park Masters meeting.
Dan Kneen was in action on the Cookstown B.E. Racing Suzuki 1000 Superbike and he also gave the racing public a first sighting of the team’s new Honda 600 Supersport bike.
On the big Suzuki, Manxman Kneen scored three top five results in the Superbike class and but for poor starts a win would have been a distinct possibility.
Kneen posted the fastest lap in Saturday’s Superbike race but had to settle for second place behind Cody Nally but a podium result was a great way to start the season off.
He was fifth in Sunday’s Superbike race, just 2.5 seconds behind winner Nally, before taking fourth in the Masters Grand Final behind Nally, Marshall Neill and Derek Sheils. Kneen lapped the Kildare circuit in 54.3 seconds in the feature race, a time only bettered by Neill.
First time out on the Cookstown B.E. Racing Honda 600, Kneen rode cautiously in two wet 600 races before pulling the pin in the final dry Supersport event. From well back on the starting grid, Kneen cut through the midfield order to claim a fine fifth and had the race been more than a five lap dash he almost certainly would have made the podium again.
Only the top two of Davy Haire and Carl Phillips were able to lap quicker than Kneen.
The only blot on the weekend for Cookstown B.E. Racing was that one of the team’s technician’s, Mark Kelly, was hospitalised after crashing heavily when competing in one of the 250cc races on his own Honda.
John Burrows said: “I’d like to wish Mark a speedy recovery but aside from his crash the team had a great weekend and we’ll head to the Cookstown 100 brimming with confidence. If Dan can get the big Suzuki off the line a bit better he’ll be a big threat to his Superbike rivals. To get on the Superbike podium at Mondello, where the opposition was fierce, was quite an achievement.
“The fine result in the final Supersport race was a bonus, we simply entered the 600 races to let Dan get acquainted with the new Honda and we’re very excited by his prospects after watching him go third quickest on a machine he’s quite unfamiliar with. After our showing at Mondello, Cookstown can’t come quick enough.”
Dan Kneen commented: “The plan was just to go to Mondello to get miles on both bikes under my belt. Things went quite well and as I got up to speed I was able to challenge for decent results and I’m actually a little disappointed I didn’t get a win.
“My starts are usually good but at Mondello my Superbike getaways on the Suzuki were poor. I think it was a combination of a small clutch problem and over eagerness on my part.
“With the 600 Honda being new to me, I didn’t push hard at all in the two wet races but I got to grips with her in the final race and pushed on. The Honda handles really well but we will make a few more tweaks to the chassis to improve it further. Mark Kelly has been a big help to me and hopefully he’ll be up and about again soon, get well soon mate.
“Overall I’m pretty happy, we sorted a few things with both bikes, we definitely made them better, it was a very worthwhile trip to Mondello.”
Photos by Baylon McCaughey