Dan Kneen: The man behind THAT TT moment

Published: 07 April 2016

The Manxman’s 2011 TT will always be remembered for that huge moment at Rhencullen 2 during the Senior TT. Not by him, though, as MCN Sport found out when they caught up with him a few weeks later

 

n June 10th the name Dan Kneen seared itself onto TT fans’ brains. His horrifying near-crash at Rhencullen 2 in the Senior was THE scary broadcast moment at this year’s TT.
But 23 year-old Dan had already been tipped for great things at this year’s event, and was regarded as the next big star on the roads. This year, though, the Marks Bloom-backed Manxman couldn’t build on his 2010 TT Supersport fifth, thanks largely to a major pre-season testing crash that left him with damaged vertebrae.
Short of track time, and with the NW200 hit by bad weather, Kneen was always on the back foot with the set-up of his new ZX-10R. He salvaged a sixth in Supersport Race 1 on his 2008 R6, and a seventh in Superstock with a sensational best lap of 127.260mph. He was also up to fifth when he broke down in Supersport Race 2.
He retired from the Superbike race with understandable handling problems, but despite his Senior moment finished 12th. Without a 30 second penalty for pit lane speedin he would have been 11th.
MCN Sport asked him about his TT fortunes – and about the big moment that has already scored 100,000 You Tube hits.

How was your preparation for this year’s TT?
It wasn’t ideal because I’d crashed at Jurby in testing and broke a couple of vertebrae in my neck. I went to the North West and Thruxton just before the TT but I was really stiff, and far from fit.

What about the superbike at the North West?
I only got a half a lap on it and had problems, so I didn’t qualify. That meant we went to the TT in the deep end and it seemed really hard work all through practice to get it set up to cope with the bumps.

What exactly happened?
I ran wide in the second right and never really got it settled over the jump how I wanted it to be. That meant I took off slightly out of line and the thing bit. I just wasn’t really expecting it to bite so hard because, really, I didn’t think I was that much out of shape when I hit the jump.


How fast?
I’m in fifth but it’s only about 120mph.

How the hell hasn’t it put you off the TT for life?
(laughs) You’re having moments like that all around the course – not as big as that obviously - but the bike is always shaking its head a bit. What happened at Rhencullen was just one of those things. I’m trying to put it behind me but you guys just seem to want to keep talking about it (laughs some more).]


What was the reaction when your mum and dad saw the video?
My dad saw it and just said, ‘What the hell were you doing there…?”

What words and feelings came out of your mouth at the time?
Holy shit! I just hung on as hard as I could. I didn’t really have any other choice.

How were the next five miles?
To be honest, with the way the bike had been shaking its head, everywhere just contributed to the moment. It was pretty bad in all the bumpy sections. I’d tried to push on but after that major incident I just thought, ‘Forget it,’ and slowed down to bring it home.

How was your TT in general?
Not great. I wasn’t happy at the end of the week. We had that happen in the Senior. My R6 broke down in the second Supersport. With Cam (Cameron Donald) breaking down at Signpost on the last lap, I’d have finished fourth. I was only a few seconds off Guy Martin when I went out.
I finished sixth in the first Supersport but even that was a disappointment because I’d finished fifth the previous year and obviously wanted to do better.

What will you do differently for the TT in 2012?
I’m not sure yet. We’ve work to do on the ZX-10R and need to come up with some new ideas to get the best from that. I’m not sure about the Yamaha 600. It’s a 2008 model so maybe it’s time to get a new bike.
What I’d really like is to get into a top team. The amount of work you need to do to compete with them is crazy. It’s just me and a couple of mates at the races – and me the rest of the time doing all the preparation work.

Thanks to North One TV for the video stills. The 2011 official TT review is out on DVD on July 15 (£19.99) and on Blu-ray on July 31 (£24.99). You can order it at DukeVideo.com/TT or call 01624-640000.