Dan Kneen made his return to racing this week at the Ulster Grand Prix after an eight-week lay-off and it proved to be a successful meeting for the Manxman with a host of top eight finishes. Now recovered from the back injuries sustained at the Isle of Man TT at the beginning of June, the Marks Bloom Racing rider took a best finish of seventh and also increased his personal best lap around the 7.4-mile venue to 129.401mph.
The week started steadily for Dan and after solid performances in qualifying, he opened his account with 12th in Thursday’s Dundrod 150 Superbike race. Conditions were again ideal for the main Saturday race day although strong cross winds meant caution had to be exercised on certain parts of the high-speed course. First up for Dan was the 6-lap Superstock race and a good start saw him jump up from 11th on the grid to ninth at the end of lap one and this became 7th a lap later. Enjoying a strong battle with four riders for fifth place, Dan was in sixth going into the final lap but ultimately had to settle for eighth at the chequered flag.
This was immediately followed by the first Supersport race where Dan slotted into seventh place and here he remained until the fourth lap when the race was stopped and the result declared at the end of the third lap. The first Superbike race followed and, held over 7 laps, another great start saw Dan up to seventh in the early stages of the race. With a new personal best lap of 129.401mph, Dan was battling it out for fifth place once more when he overshot Cochranstown on the penultimate lap and it proved to be his only retirement of the day.
Another eighth place followed in the second Supersport race and Dan’s strong day ended positively with a second seventh place in the final Superbike race, an event which saw Dan post more 129mph+ laps.
Speaking later, the 25-year old said, "I’m happy enough with how the week’s gone and although you always want more as a rider, I’ve got to be pleased with the results after such a long lay-off. I would have liked to have broken the 130mph barrier on the Superbike but four top eight finishes at the Ulster GP isn’t a bad return. Apart from overshooting one of the road ends in the first Superbike race, I didn’t have any issues and we’ve made more progress with the bikes this week."
"It was nice to have some good weather and that allowed me to make a lot of improvements to all three of the bikes and although there’s a bit of work still to be done on them, I’m getting there all the time and the plan now for the rest of the season is to keep making a few tweaks here and there and ensure everything’s 100% for the beginning of 2013. I had some good battles in the races and I think the results could have been slightly better as I got held up in a couple of them, which allowed the front group to make a bit of a break but, overall, it’s been a good week so thanks to everyone involved who’s helped me get back on track and hopefully, we can now have a strong run of results and end the year on a high."
Dan now heads to the Manx Grand Prix where he’ll be contesting the Post Classic Superbike race on a GSX-R750 Suzuki.