Dan Kneen’s hopes of a second successive top ten finish at the Macau Grand Prix were thwarted on Saturday when a mechanical problem forced him out on the warm-up lap of the 15-lap race. After qualifying in a strong tenth place – lapping two seconds quicker than he’d ever gone before around the demanding 3.8-mile circuit - it was cruel luck for the Marks Bloom Racing rider and not the way he wanted to end his 2013 season.
Up until race day, the week had gone extremely well for the 26-year old Manxman and, on his third visit to the Far East venue, he got quicker and quicker throughout free practice and qualifying. Indeed, after placing a steady 12th in free practice he took three seconds off his lap time in the opening qualifying session to lie in a provisional 11th place overnight.
Friday’s final 45-minute qualifying session saw Dan go quicker still as he got more comfortable around the treacherous armco-lined course and with a further two seconds taken off his times, his best lap of 2m29.369s was comfortably his personal best. It meant he lined up for Saturday’s race in tenth place on the grid and with high hopes of a strong finish. However, he never got the chance to show what he could do as he was forced to stop on the warm-up lap, oiled spark plugs the cause.
Speaking afterwards, a disappointed Dan said: “Everything had gone really well during practice and qualifying so to not even get to start the race is hugely disappointing to say the least. As the week wore on, I got more comfortable with the track and with the bike working really well, I went comfortably faster in the second qualifying session despite getting held up a lot towards the end of the session so I knew there was more to come in the race.”
“I’d reduced my lap times significantly from previous years and was confident of bettering last year’s ninth place finish but when I left the pits for the warm-up lap, the bike fouled the plugs and I only got a third of the way round the lap before I had to stop. I put an awful lot into getting to Macau this year so to say I’m gutted would be an understatement.”
Picture by Stephen Davison - Pacemaker Press International