Dan Kneen in Kirkistown return with Mar-Train Yamaha

Dan Kneen on the Mar-Train Racing Yamaha.
Dan Kneen on the Mar-Train Racing Yamaha.

Kirkistown hosts the annual Easter Monday Irish Superbike meeting in Co. Down with the Mayor’s Trophy race topping the bill at the Belfast & District Club’s event.

Heading the entry is Isle of Man rider Dan Kneen on the Mar-Train Yamaha, who twice finished as the runner-up in the Irish Superbike races at Kirkistown in 2014.

Kneen has joined the Lisburn-based outfit in place of Bradford man Dean Harrison, who parted company from Tim and Sonya Martin’s team in an amicable split after one season.

He is still feeling slightly second hand following a crash during pre-season testing at Cartagena in Spain earlier this month but expects to be at the sharp end nonetheless.

“I’m starting to gel with the bikes and I’m sure it won’t hamper us too much on Monday,” Kneen said.

“The bikes are mega, a lot of hard work and preparation has gone in and I’m enjoying working with Andy [Jamison] and the boys, so Kirkistown will be another good opportunity to test as we build up to the road race season.”

Team owner Tim Martin added that although the event was primarily an extra test for the team, he expected Kneen to feature prominently given his brace of runner-up finishes at the circuit two years ago in the corresponding event.

“I said at the end of 2015 how much progress had been made with the YZF-R1M and we have made a lot more since then thanks to the hard work of Yamaha UK and my team,” said Martin.

“We lost some testing time in Spain but Dan has applied himself very well during the remainder of our programme and we have Kirkistown, Tandragee and Cookstown all booked in so we will be more than ready come the Internationals.

“Monday is predominantly a test for us but Dan has run well at Kirkistown before so we will be hoping to run near the front and give the fans a good show.”

Entries also include Nikki Coates, David Haire, Jamie Patterson, Brian McCormack, Gerard Kinghan and IFS Yamaha riders Ryan Rainey and Robert English.

Malachi Mitchell-Thomas, who has joined the Cookstown B.E. Racing team for the Irish and International road races this season, will also be in action.

Admission will be £10 with children under 12 free (when accompanied by an adult).

Practice is scheduled to get under way at 9am with timed and untimed practice for all classes.