Lots of laps since last time. International man of mystery Danny Buchan was away in Japan making his debut in the renowned Suzuka Eight Hour endurance race. Fastest rider for the three-man Swizz Bolliger Kawasaki team, together they came home a very creditable P15 out of 70 starters. One of the top Pirelli teams too, up against the factory ‘specials’ and trick Bridgestone tyres.
Meanwhile, our Lincolnshire Lad Lee Jackson was on Anglesey competing in the inaugural No Limits ten-hour endurance race. Teamed up with my partner in crime Darren Fry, Kawasaki UK’s Craig Watson and Chris Platt. P2 – great effort chaps.
Then off to Thruxton for more BSB action. Danny to build up more points towards showdown qualification and Lee hoping to consolidate his top three position in the Superstock 1000 Championship. Being Thruxton, everything would be centered around managing tyre life, such is the hammering the rubber gets across the abrasive surface and through the very high-speed corners which are the main features of the track.
Danny Buchan. Bennetts British Superbike. Kawasaki ZX10-RR.
Putting his newfound endurance racing skills to the test, Danny ran 24 laps on one set of tyres in FP1 and pretty much confirmed that the softer compound SC0 rear tyre would last a race distance. No new tyre run, for the sake of the timesheet, and P17, a couple seconds off the ultimate pace while Danny adjusted to being back on his more powerful and stiffer superbike. Another 25 laps in FP2, initially still looking for his ‘feel’ with the bike but a new tyre for the last 15 minutes and Danny was back on it. P2, only a quarter of a second behind Hickman and ahead of Brookes on the first of the Ducatis.
By Saturday morning Danny, working with his crew chief Matt and his K-Tech suspension technician James, had agreed a few set up tweaks to try while our data engineer Jason tuned a little power out of the engine to help reduce wheelspin and improve drive through the corners. After a few laps bedding-in new front discs, Danny got his head down. The changes certainly worked and with minutes of the 45-minute session to go Danny was sitting at the top of the timesheet. In the final minutes several riders went out with new front and rear tyres fitted. Only Scott Redding bettered Danny’s time, by just over 0.1. All very encouraging going in to qualifying…
Danny is a Sunday Man and doesn’t always nail qualifying. In Q1 he didn’t manage to string a lap together on his first run and had to come in for a new tyre to enable him to post a time good enough for P7. Similar issue in Q2, Danny needed to take another tyre – but with no new ones left the second Q1 tyre went back in as it only had four laps on it. Danny ended up P12 which would mean lots to do in the race. The trick in qualifying is maintaining tyre temperature during a tight time window. No time for a slow sector or hanging back hoping for a tow.
Morning warm up and normal service was resumed. P3 after 12 laps. 0.1 slower than pace setter Andrew Irwin. The softer compound SC0 rear tyre was looking pretty good and would do the race, provided the pace was sensible. As always, the plan is to have some grip left to attack towards the end, rather than use the tyre early on to make up places.
Typical Danny fast start – one of his key strengths – and five places made up on lap one. P7, tucked in behind Redding. With everyone in tyre management mode the field was tightly bunched making passing tricky. Danny was a demon on the brakes into the chicane which made his life a little easier. Brookes moved through but Iddon soon slipped back due to tyre issues and in the final laps Bridewell lost grip too, allowing Danny to get through to P6, his finishing position. It might have been P5 but his move on Hickman at the chicane was forcefully defended resulting in Danny dropping back, unable to mount another challenge. Good recovery from qualifying and more points scored, but only P13 on the grid for race two as all the lap times had been so close.
A few spots of rain in the air as the grid lined up for race two. Another excellent start and first lap and Danny was up to P7, battling with the front runners. The rain intensified a little as Danny passed O’Halloran for P6, just as Redding raised an arm to signal to race control that conditions were now dangerous for slick shod racing. Red Flag. The rain went as quickly as it arrived. After a pause to see what the weather was going to do a wet race re-start was declared enabling everyone to fit whichever tyres they wanted as there’d be no red flag for rain. Everyone fitted new slicks, front and rear for the 13-lap re-run. Danny would be P8 on the grid, based on his race position the lap before the stoppage.
In the re-start, Danny had to call on his experience as a front runner to stay out of trouble. Reasonable start but the shorter race distance reduced the tyre wear issues, plus a number of riders at the front were out of position due to their race one procession lap times. It all made for some desperate moves! It didn’t really matter as after four laps Glenn Irwin crashed at the chicane and his bike caught fire. Red Flag. Oil and fluids everywhere meant there’d be a big clean-up operation. In the end a second re-start over eight laps was called – about an hour and a half after the scheduled start time…
This time Danny was P9 on the grid. Soon up to P7 Danny then lost places as Redding ran through the chicane and broke his rhythm. (Later Redding was given a ride through penalty for not taking a ‘long lap’ penalty for gaining an advantage through missing the chicane. He’d drop to P22.) Half a lap later another drama in a group jockeying for position through the ultra-fast Church Corner pushed Danny back to P10. Short race. He recovered to P9 which became P8 in the results as Redding was demoted. With the potential for a much higher finish in the original race lost, the main objective of bringing home more points had been achieved.
Danny is now on 150 points and fourth in the standing, leap frogging Tarren Mackenzie who couldn’t race as a result of an injury sustained in a Q1 crash. There’s a group of four riders close behind in the points but with only the forthcoming Cadwell and Oulton rounds counting towards showdown qualification – Danny’s favourite circuits – we’re in a good place.
Lee Jackson. Pirelli National Superstock 1000. Kawasaki ZX10-RR.
Lee was immediately up to speed in FP1 on his ZX10-RR. P2, 0.4 behind his best mate and championship leader Cooper. Race distance run completed, but the rear tyre was showing severe signs of wear. Tom Brown of MSS Performance fame, his race technician, found some changes that we hoped would improve matters on the tyre wear front.
As with the superbike, we had to tune some power out to help the tyre – but Lee always manages to find where we hide the power, chasing it with his fast throttle hand! Another 16 laps in FP2 and P2 again, but this time only 0.033 slower than Cooper and 0.3 ahead of Reid. But the tyre was still looking rude so more work to do before qualifying.
Saturday morning qualifying. Two laps to run-in a new chain using a worn rear tyre and then in for new front and rear tyres. Billy McConnell put in one of his wonder laps, Cooper set a time then crashed, Taylor Mackenzie got a clear lap late on and Lee ended up P4, half a second slower than Billy but 0.3 ahead of Reid in P5. Come the race, Lee and the usual front runners would be away together and clear of the pack, all set for a tyre management war.
P4 in the short Sunday morning warm up on a used rear tyre set up Lee nicely for the race. The race was a cracker! With 16 laps to run and tyre life marginal, Lee settled into P5, keeping a watching brief on the front runners. Lap eight and he’d quietly worked his way up to P2 in a very close dice with Cooper, Mackenzie and McConnell. He hit the front on lap 11 and as Cooper started to drop back there were three left. Still leading on to the final lap with Mackenzie right on his tail, we knew it would come down to the final chicane, yards from the line. Running a wide line through Church, Lee lost a few yards which allowed Mackenzie to slipstream him up the hill and just beat him on the brakes into the chicane. Lee fought back but the room ran out… P2. 0.3 behind and 0.1 in front of McConnell.
Pity to miss the win but great effort all the same. More points mean Lee has consolidated his third place in the championship standings with 162 on the board, but some way behind Cooper and Mackenzie.
FS-3 Racing Team.
Another strong weekend demonstrating our abilities as a small independent team. All down to the efforts of the crew, our technical partners and suppliers who together enable us to put competitive and reliable bikes under Danny and Lee. Flying the flag for the Kawasaki ZX10-RR in both main classes.
All well and good but over the weekend our thoughts were with the smallest member of the team, Kirsty’s young son Arthur. He’s had a big emergency operation to make him better and is being a very brave boy in hospital. Danny, Lee and the whole team took inspiration from seeing his name sticker on the fairing screens. Danny held up a ‘get well’ board on the grid and James Whitham did an interview so Arthur could see it from his hospital bed. We’re looking forward to having him back in the garage very soon.
Cadwell Park. Special event. Superbike lap record holder – Lee Jackson. Superstock lap record holder – Danny Buchan. (I know that seems the wrong way around!) Should make for an interesting weekend. Lee will be chasing another win while Danny will be focused on gathering points towards showdown qualification.
Brilliant circuit, huge crowd, fantastic atmosphere – don’t miss it.
Hope to see you there.
Regards. Nigel. Team Principal.