Kneen 'won't rest on his laurels,' says John Burrows
After a three-year absence, the Carole Nash Kells Road Races – in association with Road Racing Ireland – make a welcome return this weekend.
Financial restraints and bad weather have wreaked havoc with the popular event in recent years, but it is thanks to a dedicated bunch of people in the North Meath area that racing returns on the spectacular 2.25-mile Crossakeil Circuit today and tomorrow.
Manxman Dan Kneen has been the man in form early in the season and despite the fact that he is a newcomer to the circuit, he should figure prominently in the results on his John Burrows Cookstown BE machines.
Kneen was also a newcomer at both Cookstown and Tandragee, racking up a total of three wins.
He scored a top-10 finish at the North West 200 and at the Isle of Man TT had a highly successful week, registering three top-10 finishes.
Dungannon team owner John Burrows said: "Dan has been riding really well so far this season and as we head for Kells, it is worth noting that we've had success at every meeting we've been to this year.
"This is a real team effort and everyone in the Cookstown BE team work hard in their meticulous preparation of the machines.
"We will not be resting on our laurels and we go into this meeting totally focused on getting Dan to the sharp end of the results once again."
In the absence of Michael and William Dunlop, who won three races between them at the last Kells meeting in 2011, races are wide open with close action anticipated in the 10-race programme.
Michael is taking to four wheels this weekend, making his rally debut while William is still recovering from breaking his leg at the Senior TT.
Scotsman Keith Amor, who fought out a number of close battles at Kells in 2008 with Ryan Farquhar, has returned to racing this season. A return to that kind of form should see Amor battling at the front of the field across the weekend.
Derek Sheils, a revelation on the roads in the last few seasons riding for Chris Dowd's team, has been reflecting on his road racing future recently, but is expected on the grid this weekend along with Derek McGee, another man bang in form.
Full grids are the order of the day with over 115 competitors set to thrill the expected huge crowd, including racers from all over Ireland, England, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Italy and New Zealand.
Some 55 newcomers are entered, including Kneen, Conor Behan, Gareth Keys and Italian David Ansaldi.
Roads close for practice today at 1pm, followed by two classic races. Roads close again on Sunday at 11am with the first race scheduled for an 11.15am start.