Knockhill was another new track for 14-year-old James McManus to learn to ride. The Randalstown racer is in his first season of the Junior Supersport series in British Superbikes and the year is all about learning the bike and the tracks. Whilst there are no expectations of the young rider he wanted to do well for his brother Eugene McManus Junior who remains in the Royal College Hospital London after his accident at the previous round at Brands Hatch.
The Junior Supersport class only gets one free practice session and that was late in the afternoon on Friday. The Knockhill circuit was blessed with plenty of sunshine and James McManus managed a respectable 1:00.243 on his first time at the circuit in Scotland.
With four races initially planned for the Junior Supersport class this weekend qualifying took place early on Saturday morning.
James McManus was gaining in confidence with every lap. By the end of the 25-minute session he had reduced his lap time further. He finished with a best time of 58.883, which was 1.36 seconds better than he achieved on Friday.
This put him 32nd on the grid for the start of race one.
At quarter past two the same afternoon the riders lined up for the first of four 15 laps races during weekend. In the opening laps McManus had worked his way from 32nd to 25th and was in a group of five riders.
By the halfway stage McManus overtook Dickinson to move into 24th position and led this group of riders. The positions changed again as the group battled among themselves.
The race finished early after the red flag came out with McManus 23rd and right on the back wheel of Jake Hopper one place ahead.
MacManus’s progress on the circuit was clear as he managed to better his qualifying time during the race. His fastest lap of 58.141 during the race meant he lined up in 24th for the second outing.
The second race had to be rescheduled after heavy rainfall on the Saturday afternoon brought the entertainment to a premature end. With the race moved to Sunday morning the organisers’ were forced to cut one of the Junior Supersport races from the schedule.
Although a very thin dry line was beginning to appear, the second race was sensibly declared a wet race. McManus again made a positive start to the race moving up three places in the opening laps. He was in a battle with Lofthouse, Dawson and Fowle in the opening stages of the race.
McManus maintained 20th position throughout the majority of the race. In the challenging conditions he briefly made it inside the top twenty before crossing the line 20th.
His lap time during the wet conditions saw him line up 28th for the final race of the weekend.
There was another solid performance from James McManus in the final race of the weekend. Battling against a strong wind and starting 28th, he made a quick getaway from the start line. He was soon up to 25th place on the track.
Around halfway through the race McManus moved to the head of a group of six riders. Positions changed regularly as McManus looked to keep position against more experienced riders.
In the closing stages he was involved in a battle with Oscar Pinson. The two changed places a number of times in the closing stages. Going into the final lap Pinson had edged ahead but at the chequered flag it was McManus who led across the line to take 23rd.
The Dickies Junior Supersport championship returns to action at Snetterton on 19 – 21 July.
Photo: Bonnie Lane