Isle of Man rider Dan Kneen couldn’t have wished for a better debut at the KDM Hire Cookstown 100 after roaring to a surprise victory in the feature Superbike event.
It had looked as though William Dunlop was on his way to a win in the main race of the day on the Tyco Suzuki, but Kneen – who started from the second group after qualifying in 11th place – came through to win on corrected time by 0.3 seconds on the Cookstown/BE Racing Suzuki.
The Manxman had never raced at the 2.1-mile Orritor course before, but quickly found his bearings to walk away with the big prize as he shared the rostrum with Dunlop and Mullingar man Derek McGee.
Completing the top six were Derek Sheils on the CD Racing Kawasaki, Michael Sweeney from Skerries and John Walsh.
Michael Dunlop began the 2014 Irish national road racing season with a double in the Supersport and Supertwin races, despite riding in pain after injuring his arm during a crash in qualifying for the Easter British Superbike meeting at Brands Hatch.
Dunlop came from fourth place in the Supersport race to pass his brother William before dispatching Sheils and McGee on the final lap to close out a hard-earned win.
He won the Supertwin race on the McAdoo Kawasaki by one second from James Cowton with Jamie Hamilton finishing third, but Dunlop failed to finish either Superbike race on his MD Racing BMW S1000RR Superstock machine.
Dublin rider Sheils followed up his win in Friday night’s Invitational Supersport race with another triumph for Chris Dowd in the Open race, holding off a late surge by McGee to scale the top step of the rostrum with William Dunlop claiming third on the Tyco Suzuki Superbike, followed by Wilson Craig Honda rider Jamie Hamilton, Sweeney and Seamus Elliott.
There was a delay of around three quarters of an hour following an incident involving two riders in the Moto3 (125GP) race, which was red-flagged as a result. Fortunately both escaped serious injury and William Cowden won the re-started race – held over three laps – from Justin Waring and Nigel Moore.
Michael Sweeney (Cookstown/BE Racing Honda) took the spoils in the 250GP race ahead of John Ella, Tommy Henry and Sam Dunlop.
The Irish road racing season is now in full flow and continues next Saturday with the Around A Pound Tandragee 100, where Sheils, McGee, William Dunlop, Ryan Farquhar, Keith Amor, Kneen and Sweeney are among the entries.
Don’t miss the Tuesday, April 29 edition of Keep ‘er Lit in the News Letter for a full review of all the Cookstown 100 action plus World Superbikes from Assen, MotoGP, Tandragee 100 latest and much more.