Danny and Lee are fast around Cadwell Park, the most technically demanding track we visit and one which places a premium on skill and bravery.
Lee Jackson superbike lap record holder.
Danny Buchan superstock 1000 lap record holder.
Last year was good for Lee: race winner. Not so good for Danny as a big off hampered his challenge for a showdown place. Danny’s objective for this weekend was to strike a sensible balance between points and podiums….
Danny Buchan. Bennetts British Superbike. Kawasaki ZX10-RR.
First things first. The organisers put on a Thursday evening test session for the superbikes. Three hours open pitlane with the benefit of all the circuit safety equipment and staff in place. It was a lovely evening and the track time was going to enable us to try out some chassis set up tweaks that we hoped would give Danny an extra edge. 45 laps later and positive feedback on the changes. Danny completed the test in P2, 0.3 faster than first timer and fast learner Redding, but 0.7 off Brookes who bettered the lap record on a new tyres run at the very end, on a cooling track. All set up for Friday’s free practice sessions.
Dodgy weather forecast Friday morning with big rain anticipated. The morning session was held in good conditions which saw Danny end up P2 behind Brookes again, but by only 0.096 of a second this time. Bridewell lead the rest, 0.5 slower.
FP2 was a wash out as torrential rain descended over Cadwell. Danny did an exploratory out and in lap. Shortly afterwards track action for the afternoon was abandoned.
Saturday morning’s FP3 was compromised for us by a failure in the generator service which supplies power to the pit awnings. All set up at the bottom of the hill on the inside of the circuit. (Logistics are a nightmare at Cadwell as there are no permanent garages and no track crossing bridge or tunnel. Teams have to walk up and down the very steep hill and dash across the track between sessions. Meanwhile team vans shuttle up and down the track bringing essential supplies – mainly wheels fitted with new tyres, and sandwiches.) Anyway, no power means no tyre warmers. When we did get power restored it was too late to allow the tyres to reach operating temperature by the time the session started. We waited and then a light shower arrived. Fortunately, the track dried and with hot tyres Danny got a decent run in at the end of the session. P2 again, but this time only 0.008 shy of Brookes! Close enough for you? Bridewell was next up again, 0.3 back.
Let’s see if Danny can nail qualifying this time. With overtaking so difficult, a first or second row start would be essential. Q1, three laps, P3, park the bike. Perfect. Q2 P4, comfortably into the top nine shootout. Q3, didn’t quite find the perfect lap. P5, less than 0.1 off a front row position. That would do nicely.
Morning warm up on Sunday was again a Brookes/Buchan show. Brookes faster by 0.1 with Redding 0.3 back in P3. All set up for race one.
Good start essential as we wanted to get past Ray who’d qualified an excellent P2 but didn’t have Danny’s race pace. In the event it was not an issue as Ray’s bike failed on the formation lap. Cruel luck but a nice big gap in front of Danny’s ZX10-RR. He got a great launch, straight in to P2 behind Brookes. Redding swallowed up by the pack. As expected, based on their speed in testing and practice, Danny and Josh cleared off with only Tommy Bridewell hanging on a second or so behind them. Danny shadowed Brookes for 10 laps, showing all the signs of looking for a way by. Nervous pit wall – don’t risk the points Danny! No chance, he’s a racer. With Bridewell closing right in on the leading pair, Danny made his move down the hill into Mansfield. Clean as you like, stopped, turned, gone – immediately pulling out a small gap. With Bridewell on his tail, Brookes fought back and after a small mistake by Danny the gap closed right up. No problem, Danny eased away again and after eight laps in front crossed the line one second ahead of Josh.
Fantastic ride by all three but especially our Danny – points and a podium, top step too.
Lap time from race one gave us a front row start alongside Bridewell on pole and Redding, with Brookes right behind. Another great launch in behind Bridewell but a determined Brookes swept around the outside of Danny through Coppice – the steep uphill left turn one. P3. By the end of lap two the three leaders were clear of the field, Redding having made another poor start and then getting taken out. Bridewell set a searing pace – faster than race one, with Brookes and Danny right with him, all running at close to lap record pace. Tommy held on until past half-race distance before Brookes finally found a way past on lap 12, Danny still in close attendance. With three laps to go the pace was just starting to adversely affect Danny’s tyre grip. With a 10 second gap back to P4 he decided to take the points option and eased off to close the line three seconds back, but still in a podium position.
What a weekend! Well done Daniel but also big credit to Matt, Danny’s crew chief, Jason on electronics and James our K-tech suspension technician. Plus of course Dave and Chris who spanner the bike, keeping everything in perfect order.
191 points scored, 40 ahead of Mackenzie and still fourth in the standings – only the Ducatis ahead of our Kawasaki ZX10-RR.
Lee Jackson. Pirelli National Superstock 1000. Kawasaki ZX10-RR.
Things didn’t quite fall right for Lee. Unlike some of the other front runners, Lee didn’t manage to get in some track day laps the week before. We weren’t too bothered though as two free practice sessions at a track he knows intimately would be more than enough to get up to speed. Then we got caught out by the weather. FP1 in the streaming wet, so Lee rolled round in P10. In the afternoon the rain intensified, and the cancellation of proceeding meant that FP2 was lost.
Qualifying the next day was extended to 40 minutes to make up for lost track time. By the end Lee was a very creditable P6 after softening of the suspension to suit the Cadwell bumps and dips – giving him more ‘feel’ for what the bike was doing underneath him. Well positioned for the race.
Warm up went okay, six laps and P10 but happy enough with the feel of the bike. After some early rain interruptions, the race was reduced to 12 laps.
The start didn’t quite go to plan, and Lee dropped back and came around at the end of lap one P7. Through in to P6 when Reid’s big crash at Coppice promoted him to P5 behind Rouse. Reid was attended at trackside by medical staff while his damaged bike lay close to the track edge. No red flag or safety car. Two laps later the safety car was deployed – to remove the stricken bike from the danger zone – but too late for Lee. He’d been stuck behind Rouse, who was a fair bit slower over a lap and riding defensively and had started to get frustrated as he could see the front three getting away. Exiting Charlies Two, one of his favourite corners, trying to get a big drive onto Park Straight to set up an out-braking manoeuvre into Park Corner, he ran six-inches wide. Touched the wet grass and that was it. The bike slid from under him and they both skated off across the wet grass. Lee was horrified at what he’d done and couldn’t apologise enough. He’s not a crasher but circumstances – including the pressure of his home round – had worked against him. Another day would have produced a podium finish and probably another win. The bike wasn’t too bad but unfortunately he gave his foot a big bang.
At the end of the day Lee is still a comfortable P3 in his championship standings and leading Kawasaki. He’ll be back stronger than ever.
FS-3 Racing Team.
Happy team. Pity Darren is blocking out Dave! And no Kirsty as she was at home looking after little Arthur – get well soon soldier.
Magnificent Oulton Park.
Lee will be back on it, determined to make up for his Cadwell disappointment. Hope his foot isn’t too sore.
A superbike triple header for Danny – an extra race on the Saturday. It’s also the final round to decide the showdown places. The pressure was on, but now it’s (mostly) off. Danny needs to score just four points more than Hickman in race one and his showdown place is guaranteed. Do that and Sunday’s races will be fun, simply chasing the podium credits that add to the 500 points reset score that the six showdown contenders enter the final three rounds with.
Don’t miss it! Hope to see you there.