Reigning Irish roads Superbike champion Dan Kneen has tied up a coveted deal with Clive Padgett’s highly regarded Honda team for the international road races in 2015.
The news was confirmed at the official launch of the Isle of Man TT in Douglas on Tuesday night, with Manx star Kneen joining New Zealand’s Bruce Anstey in the Valvoline-backed outfit for the Superbike, Superstock and Supersport classes.
The Braddan man had been left high and dry after his proposed move to Ballymoney team Millsport Racing to compete on Suzuki machinery fell through in February.
The eleventh-hour collapse came as a shock setback to the 27-year-old, who was one of the success stories of 2014, excelling in his debut season at the Irish National road races to clinch the Superbike title for John Burrows’ B.E. Racing team and recording his first international success in the Superstock race at the Ulster Grand Prix.
However, Kneen has landed one of international road racing’s plum rides in Padgett’s slickly run squad and the quiet Isle of Man rider intends to make the most of a golden opportunity to build on his results last year, which included three top-eight finishes in the Superbike, Superstock and Supersport TT races.
“I’ve gone from having nothing to securing a ride with one of the best teams in the paddock in a short space of time,” said Kneen.
“I can’t thank Clive enough for giving me this opportunity and I am really excited about getting the chance to work with him and his crew.
“It’s one of those teams that you always look at when you are coming through the ranks, hoping that one day you might get the chance to ride for them, and my chance has come and I intend to take it with both hands.”
Kneen, who rattled off a stunning treble at the Manx Grand Prix in 2008, set his fastest ever lap of the Mountain Course last year at 129.360mph as he finally fulfilled his promise as one of road racing’s most exciting emerging talents.
Along with outright TT lap record holder Anstey, he also has Aussie Cameron Donald as a team-mate in the Padgetts Racing line-up, who will compete in both Supersport TT races on a CBR600RR before switching to the Norton SG3 in the Superbike and Senior events.
Team manager Padgett said he hoped the deal with Kneen would evolve into a longer-term association over the next few seasons.
“We are delighted to be working with Dan Kneen in 2015. He is a rider we have long admired and who we feel has shown great potential, often without the chance to really show what he is capable of,” he said.
“We see this as the start of what will hopefully turn into a long relationship and we want to be part ofDan realising his potential over the next few years.”
Kneen will also compete in selected rounds of the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship in addition to the North West 200, TT and Ulster Grand Prix.
A host of stars attended the official TT launch, including Milwaukee Yamaha’s Michael Dunlop, Tyco BMW rider William Dunlop, Honda Racing duo John McGuinness and Conor Cummins plus Gary Johnson, Lee Johnston, Michael Rutter, Peter Hickman, David Johnson and new Wilson Craig signing Derek McGee.