Dan Kneen’s domination of the 2014 Irish National road racing season continued on Sunday.
The Manxman claimed victory on the Cookstown/Burrows Engineering Suzuki in the Race of the South at Walderstown in Co West Meath.
As with most of the circuits that he has raced onsince joining John Burrow’s team this season, the 27-year-old had never even seen the two mile long circuit before the weekend.
That didn’t stop Kneen from notching up yet another 2014 National feature race victory as he added Walderstown’s triumph to wins at Cookstown, Tandragee, Kells and Skerries.
“I got my first look at the circuit when we did two laps in the van in the dark on Friday evening,” Kneen joked as he raised the winner’s trophy.
“It still doesn’t feel like I know the place and before racing began today I hadn’t done a lap in the dry that wasn’t behind a marshal,” he explained after rain reduced Saturday’s practice to five lap controlled sessions behind travelling marshals.
This lack of track time appeared to play into the hands of Walderstown specialist, William Dunlop, who was making his comeback on a Superbike on the Tyco Suzuki after breaking his left leg in a Senior TT crash.
In the first race of the day, Dunlop came from the second row of the grid to take victory in the Open race ahead of Derek Sheils (CD Racing Kawasaki) and Michael Sweeney (Kawasaki). Kneen could only manage a fourth place finish in this encounter, finishing 10 seconds down on Dunlop as he struggled to come to terms with the fast back section of the narrow West Meath circuit.
But the Manx racer was to turn the tables on Dunlop in the feature race that offered a £3000 carrot to the overall winner.
“I knew William goes well here and I knew he would be quick.” Kneen said.
“I tried to get a good start, be first out of the first corner and string a good opening lap together and that’s what I did. I was surprised that I didn’t see anyone for the rest of the race!”
Kneen led from start to finish, gapping Dunlop by 6.5 seconds at the chequered flag, but he admitted that he had expected the Tyco Suzuki star to catch him. The Ballymoney man had problems of his own.
“I got past Derek Sheils at the start of the second lap but I couldn’t get the bike down into first gear into the next corner and had to go round it in second,” Dunlop explained.
“That let Dan open a gap that I had no chance of closing.”
Dunlop had the consolation of winning the Supersport event, raising his own 600cc lap record to103.841mph as he kept local favourite Derek McGee (Yamaha) at bay.
The double win was more than he had expected as he returns from an injury that still saw him limping badly in the Walderstown paddock.
“I can’t use my leg to change direction on the bike.” the 28-year-old said.
“I didn’t think I would win anything today so I am happy to get two wins. I have two weeks to rest the leg now before Armoy on July 27.”