Brian Kneale - TT Website Column Part One

Paul has asked me to write a few words for the web site as a bit of a columnist, which is a first. It will probably be the last as well, because I was never the best at this sort of thing, so he might not ask me again!

I should have been riding at the Manx like so many others this month. My whole year is built around it, and I still believe that it could have gone ahead - bloody foot and mouth. I was due to ride Stuart Smith's 250 Honda this year after parting company with R-Tech Racing after a few good years. Some of you may remember Stewart who was a good goer at the Manx himself before he was left paralysed from an accident at Alpine. He is a lovely bloke and it is a pleasure to ride for him.

I've only had one outing on the bike, which was at Aintree, and although I needed to set it up to my liking, I could tell straight away it was fast enough to win the Lightweight on. Shaun Brown has been riding it all year, and he has proved how good it is, by pushing Ian Lougher and Ryan Farquhar hard at Scarborough for instance.

But there is always next year, and I should get the chance to ride it then, and we hope to run it a the Southern 100 and Jurby Road Races as well.

Luckily enough, I have had quite a lot of bike time, on the short circuits this year, otherwise I might have got to next years Manx without having ridden a racing bike for two years!

I bought an RG500 Suzuki at the start of the year, which has always been a dream toy to own. It's been bloody expensive to run this year, but it's been worth every penny. When it runs well, there is nothing like it for fun factor to ride. I can't wait to get it out at a Road Race.

Our latest outing was at Ty Cross on the Isle of Anglesey. We had already ridden there once this year, but it was a bit of a disaster to be honest, and I wasn't totally looking forward to going. We had done a lot of work on the bike on the run up to the meeting, and I'd had to shell out some considerable money, just to get it ready in time. Alan Ogden has been a great help locating spares for me, and my uncle Nigel, Paul's dad Dave and Dan Sayle have all put in a lot of time getting the thing ready.

We met up with a couple of lads who we had befriended last time we were there - Mick Charnock and Richard Prescott who both made their debuts at the Manx last year. Both of them are truly top lads, and would do anything for you, and they really enjoy their racing, both riding well looked after CBR 600's

On the first day (Saturday) it chucked it down. Real Isle of Man weather. I was a bit worried about how the RG would go in the wet, because the power is so fierce and I thought some of the TZ's might find it easier. The first race I was in was the first of the two Forgotten Era British Championship rounds for that day. I was surprised that it didn't seem to make much difference, and I was pleased to get home third, and I was only piped to the line for second.

There wasn't much change for the second race, apart from the fact, I got away a bit better, and managed to get home in second behind series leader Lea Gourlay.

I was also allowed out in what the club called the Formula Phoenix Class, which had just about one of everything in. I have to admit, that I didn't really understand the rules, but the RG was eligible, and I made no mistake in the two races winning them both by comfortable margins.

Another person I should mention at this point is a guy some of you may know from using this web site. John Hulme met us the last time we were over in May, and has since been kind enough to help me out with a bit of much needed sponsorship. He was down helping us again and cheering me on.

We had a Bar B Q on Saturday night as the weather improved, with Pressy and Mick and it was a real good night. It was the nearest thing to the atmosphere you get at the Manx really with everyone helping each other out and having a laugh, which is a bit ironic, because we should have been out making final preparations in what would have been the last practice session for the Manx. On Sunday, I was pleased to see that the weather was a bit more favourable that the previous day. I felt confident about winning the Formula Phoenix Class again, but I really wanted to push Gourlay in the Forgotten Era race, and perhaps beat him for the first time this year.

I was right to be confident about the Formula Phoenix Class, taking another two wins, which is always good for the confidence, and the bike was running really well. Probably the best it has gone all year. The first Forgotten Era Race of the day was much closer than it had been the day before, but again, Lea, who to be fair is a well established short circuit racer, still had that little bit extra, every time I got close to him.

So the last chance I had to get one over him at Ty Cross, came in the last Forgotten Era Championship round there, and I was determined to do it. I gave it everything, and set the fastest lap, which I was pleased about, but once again, I was beaten; only by the narrowest of margins, but beaten nevertheless.

It was a great race to ride in, continually swapping places, and it must have been pretty good to watch, because there were a lot of people up at the van afterwards. Perhaps they thought it was Barry Sheene on the RG! (More like Barry from Eastenders Ed.).

So an enjoyable weekend, but I would really have loved to have grabbed a win in the Forgotten Era Championship. Still, can't complain, I'm lying second in the Championship now with only two rounds to go, and almost every round I have had to learn a new circuit; but it's still not the Manx is it? The next round is at Snetterton which is a double pointer so I'll have to make sure the RG is going well for that and I'm riding at Jurby the weekend before too.

So that's about all I have to report this month, apart from the fact I'm going to be a dad. Everyone reading this now is probably wondering how on earth that has happened, but if you don't know, I'll draw you a picture. So I'm going to have responsibility for next season; Oh dear! Jeanette and I have been for the scan and there's only one in there, so I should still be able to afford to keep the RG! We have discussed names, and although we haven't yet decided on anything, if it's a boy we thought of 'Quilt' and if it's a girl 'Quilt'. What do you reckon?

Seriously though, I'm very proud and I can't wait for January 2002. Well if Paul wants me to do it again I will, but this is probably the last time you'll hear from me, so thanks for taking the time to read this and I'll speak to you again.

Brian Kneale

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