Irish Road Racing: Tandragee hat-trick for Cookstown B.E. Racing
Following on from their tremendous Cookstown 100 successes, Cookstown B.E. Racing were top dogs at the Tandragee road races where they scored a hat-trick. Dan Kneen won both Superbike races and Michael Sweeney was victorious in the 250GP event. However, the team’s celebrations were muted as the meeting was marred by the death of popular Lusk based rider Noel Murphy.
Manxman Kneen has found a rich vein of form and after just five laps of newcomers practice the Tandragee debutant then qualified a fine fourth for the Superbike races and ninth for the Supersport event.
Kneen won Friday night’s Open race on the Cookstown B.E. Racing Suzuki 1000 from Derek McGee, Jamie Hamilton, William Dunlop and Keith Amor. He had a one second lead at the end of the second lap and was extending his advantage when the red flags brought the race to a premature end when Jamie Coward crashed.
In Saturday’s feature Tandragee 100 race, Kneen was a comfortable three seconds winner, finishing clear of Shaun Anderson and Davy Morgan.
Kneen is still not fully familiarised with the Cookstown B.E. Racing Kawasaki 650 so he was content with fourth in the Supertwins race and he looked on course for another fourth place in the Supersport race until a back brake problem forced him to retire the team’s 600 Honda.
Kneen, who is now the clear leader of the Irish Superbike Championship, dedicated his two Superbike wins to Noel Murphy.
Skerries flyer Michael Sweeney scored a narrow victory over John Ella in the 250GP race and as he also won at Cookstown, Sweeney and his Cookstown B.E. Racing Honda 250 have a healthy lead in the Irish 250GP points table.
Team owner John Burrows commented: “A good weekend for my team but no one felt like celebrating the three wins as we were all thinking about Noel Murphy. Our thoughts are with his family.
“Dan is in great form and we can’t wait to get going at the North West 200 where he will compete in the Superbike, Supersport, Supertwins and Superstock classes.
“I thought his win at Cookstown was good but his Tandragee double was even better. Not many people thought he could master the 5.3 miles County Armagh circuit on his first visit as it’s a lot more difficult to learn than the Cookstown circuit. He deserves a lot of credit as does the whole team who have the bikes working really well. Roll on the North West!”
Report & Photos by Baylon McCaughey