Let's TORQ


It’s good to talk, we all say. Sadly though, we’re not always very good at following our own advice; especially when our mental health is suffering.

One group looking to spark the conversation – at least among the hundreds of people who race, work or volunteer at the TT – is the Dan Kneen Charitable Fund. They have partnered with the mental health charity, Rock2Recovery, to create TORQ: a ground-breaking welfare service available to anyone affected by a serious racing incident on the TT Mountain Course.

Filling a current void in rider health and welfare, TORQ will strive to create positive change when it is needed the most. This may include the provision of refocusing support for competitors coming to terms with serious injury or the mental health issues attributable to long periods of recovery; coaching for the friends and family of competitors who have suffered life-changing injuries; or assistance for those sadly coming to terms with the sudden loss of a loved one.

The service forms part of the recently announced drive to further enhance medical standards at the TT and is fully endorsed by the event’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Gareth Davies, and Clerk of the Course, Gary Thompson MBE BEM, who not only identify with Rock2Recovery, but also recognise the specific expertise and specialist experience their staff will bring to the paddock.

“TORQ fills a void in welfare and rider health, and Rock2Recovery is the perfect organisation to lend their support.” - Gary Thompson MBE BEM


‘Rock’ was founded by Jamie Sanderson and Jason Fox following long careers as senior-ranking Royal Marines, which both ended with medical discharge. Whilst Rock predominantly supports military veterans and emergency services personnel, the sorts of injury and trauma the charity helps with are only too similar to those experienced by some at the TT – whether we can see them or not.

Having experienced their own traumas, the team at the Dan Kneen Charitable Fund also recognise the need for rapid preventative interventions for those affected by serious racing incidents. Losing Dan was painful for them all, but it also inspired the formation of the Fund as a meaningful legacy, with the creation of TORQ allowing Dan’s closest friends and family to better help people who find themselves in a similar place.

Someone who has recently navigated his own difficulties is TT winner, Lee Johnston, who sustained serious injuries in a crash at the North West 200 last year. Unable to race, and unable to provide his team with real purpose, Lee realised he not only had a battle to get back to full fitness, but also had a battle to regain his mental health.

Mental health is no longer the taboo subject it once was and is thankfully more widely understood today, yet Lee’s willingness to share his feelings felt like new ground for a TT racer and the fans already following his video diaries on YouTube. Talking was helping, but whilst Lee’s video updates were something of a cathartic process for the popular racer, he was also quick to seek some professional support from Rock2Recovery; a decision he views as one of the best he’s ever made.

“Knowing how hard life is after a big accident, I feel it’s really important in our sport to have a rider welfare and mental health support service like TORQ. It was really good to have Rock2Recovery on the end of the phone to talk things through and, honestly, I can’t tell you just how much it has helped me.”

Having benefitted to such a large extent from the knowledge and expertise the staff at Rock2Recovery display, Lee is keen to spread the word, joining the Dan Kneen Charitable Fund as Patron to help establish TORQ on behalf of the TT competitors both he and Dan have competed against.

“I feel it’s really important in our sport to have a rider welfare and mental health support service like TORQ.” - Lee Johnston


Whilst the charity has always been dedicated to supporting Dan's friends and fellow racers, TORQ also acknowledges the unique role and invaluable contribution of TT marshals – as well as hundreds of other volunteers – by offering them the exact same support service. TORQ is therefore an initiative of which Dan would be immensely proud, and stands as a wonderful tribute to a much-loved rider.

The creation of TORQ is also tribute to the hard-working team at the Dan Kneen Charitable Fund, and, for Dan’s partner, Leanne, it marks a significant milestone for the charity. During the past six years following Dan’s fatal accident, the charity has reached out to a number of the groups and individuals that help make up the racing paddock, but TORQ feels like a new chapter for Leanne and the team, and has given Dan’s legacy the purpose Leanne was seeking, as she explains.

“Our charity has always helped those affected by serious racing accidents, but through TORQ we can contribute in a more purposeful way. We truly feel this initiative is a fitting legacy for Dan and will ensure his spirit of camaraderie lives on at the TT for many years to come. We see TORQ as Dan offering an outstretched hand to his racing family in times of need.

“As we roll out this service, I want to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who has played a part in making this vision a reality, from our tireless volunteers to our generous donors. Together we're making a difference in the lives of those who share our passion for racing. Thank you."


DAN #14

Dan was a hugely popular presence in the TT paddock; his infectious smile lighting up the lives of many, just as his talent on a motorcycle lit up the racetrack. His ten-year career racing on the TT Mountain Course couldn’t have started any better as Dan became the first rider to ever secure a hat-trick of victories at the Manx Grand Prix. But whilst he racked up several top results on both the roads and circuits over subsequent seasons, he also endured more than his fair share of bad luck; his progress hampered by injuries in particular.

Dan got his big break in 2015, however, when Clive Padgett stepped in to sign the Manxman as teammate to Bruce Anstey and Cam Donald in time for that year’s TT. Dan rewarded the team with three top-ten finishes, but in recording his first 130mph lap, he also showed the rest of the TT paddock just how good he really was. After all, this was a very exclusive club at the time.

Racing with his favoured number 14 plate, Dan finally stood on the TT podium in 2017. It was a result that caught the attention of many, with only Ian Hutchinson and Peter Hickman finishing ahead of him in what was a typically competitive Superstock race. Dan struggled to describe the feeling at the time, but judging by the broadness of his smile, we know it meant the world.

After another strong showing at that year’s Ulster Grand Prix, Dan was confirmed for a full road campaign with Tyco BMW the following season. 2018 promised so much, but it was all taken away. Sadly, Dan was taken from us too, but he still races on in our hearts and our minds. Forever ‘on the pipe, boy’, number 14.