Updated: Jul 30
Welcome to the 2020 Bennetts British Superbike Championship. It’s been a long time coming and we’re looking forward to round one on the Donington Park national circuit in a week’s time.
The last time we were all together at the races was the 20th of October 2019, almost nine months ago. That was a good day for the team as a look back at our 2019 season report card reminds us.
2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship.
FS-3 Racing Kawasaki/Danny Buchan.
27 races. One DNF - crashed while leading, race two Knockhill. One DNS - crashed on untreated oil going to the grid, race two Snetterton.
Two race wins. Four third places. Two fastest laps. One pole position. 302 points scored. Top six Showdown qualification.
Championship fourth place overall.
2019 Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship.
FS-3 Racing Kawasaki/Lee Jackson.
20 races including three two-part long-distance events. Two DNFs - first corner crash, race one Knockhill and mid-race crash Cadwell Park.
Two race wins. Five second places. Two third places. Two new lap records set, Snetterton and Oulton Park. 240 points scored.
Championship third place overall.
Onward and Upwards. Shows, Testing and Covid-19.
Our reward for such a strong showing over the 2019 season was to be entrusted to run the official Kawasaki entry in the superbike class. Stepping up to run two superbikes as part of the Team Green set up would mean a busy winter, building a second superbike and stocking up with all the operational gear to operate out of a double garage.
The good news was there would be important continuity in the garage as Danny Buchan would be carrying on where he left off and Lee Jackson would be staying with us to ride our second Kawasaki ZX-10RR superbike.
The final piece in the jigsaw was securing title sponsorship from Massingberd-Mundy.
We finished the year with our race bikes on the Kawasaki stand at the NEC Show and then it was off to Spain for our final test of the season. We had some new things from K-Tech and MSS Performance to try out but just as important was to give Lee an early run on our superbike. Thanks to No Limits for the track time at Cartagena, but sadly an unseasonal storm flooded the track for two days and only limited running was possible on the final day. Pity. At least Lee got his first run on the superbike.
Next up was a trip to London in February for Motorcycle Live to unveil our 2020 Massingberd-Mundy livery on the Kawasaki stand, and catch up with everyone.
The following week we were back down to Spain for the official BSB winter test programme. Five days on track: three at Monteblanco and two at Jerez. A good opportunity for the new members of the garage crew to settle into the team and make sure all the new kit worked and that we hadn’t forgotten anything. Big thing to try out on the bikes was the real time tyre pressure and temperature monitoring system we had invested in. This was particularly important as we had the opportunity to gather data on the characteristics of the new specification Pirelli control tyres we all will be running this year.
Lee got in nearly 200 laps at Monteblanco and finished a second off the fastest time as he began to work on finding a base set up to suit his size and style. Danny put in just shy of 145 laps running 0.5 of a second off the ultimate pace. Testing things – particularly on worn tyres - being far more important than going for times. Off to Jerez where a wet track on both mornings reduced running – who says it’s always dry and sunny in Spain! Danny ran 84 laps over the two days and Lee 107, finishing up 0.2 off Danny’s best time which was a big encouragement for the team. They were both within a second of the fastest time, that is if you discount Josh Brookes putting in a new tyre for a short end of test run, beating his previous best by 0.6!
As all this was happening, talk in the garage was increasingly turning to news from China. We left Spain as the Corona virus pandemic was starting to take hold and a week or so after we arrived home the lockdown started.
And that was it…. Silverstone BSB series launch day cancelled, workshop closed and key staff on the government’s furlough scheme.
Thank goodness we had done so much preparation work and testing over the winter. We were still busy with all the behind the scenes administration work that the team generates, but not knowing what was going to happen made for a frustrating few months. Still, we pushed on with work on the presentation of the race truck and new garage with help from our friends at Duo Signs, and made sure we had orders in for the parts we’d need if or when the season got started.
We also did our best to keep close to our trade and commercial sponsors who have provided great encouragement and support during such a difficult time. We appreciate that they will have been suffering all sorts of challenges too.
To find out all about the team and our sponsors and supporters, visit our new website at www.fs3racing.com
The New Normal.
Once we got confirmation that Motor Sport Vision, the British Superbike Championship series organiser, had a plan for racing to resume in August, we needed to get moving on two main fronts, not easy if you’ve been mowing the lawns for a few weeks.
Finalising bike and engine preparation and finishing off creating our new circuit garage were top of the list. It’s amazing how much time it takes sorting out all the fine details of bike preparation, tracking down all of the parts and screwing it all together. Then there is the small matter of getting the riders up to speed, safely.
It wasn’t long before the workshop was in full swing: engines collected from FW Developments, bikes built and a day at the dyno, new garage tried for size and truck organised and loaded.
As far as the riders were concerned, stage one was a day at Mallory Park on superstock bikes. Less risky than straight back out on a full power superbike after months driving a van! Danny and Lee both got in over 50 laps and were circulating close to the superstock 1000 lap record. Clearly, they’d been keen to get back out on track.
Next a trip north to Croft. This time on the superbikes for a full day’s testing with all of the crew in attendance. Over 100 laps each, trying a few things, but mainly getting comfortable on their bikes, ready for the official restart of the season.
All Back Together.
The BSB paddock assembled for the first time this year on Tuesday at Donington Park for the usual pre-season test and press day. What a strange experience, not least because it was the end of July. However, the real difference was having to work to strict Covid-19 health and safety protocols. No spectators, minimum crew, masks and gel, garage doors open all day and, of course, sensible social distancing while trying to work on the bikes. Radio headsets for the crew, desk dividers on the garage desks and not much opportunity to interact with the other teams which is a big part of any BSB event.
We took the opportunity to build the new garage for the first time and check that everything was working. It looked great and worked well. It is a treat to have so much space to work in, even if there are far fewer people in the garage under the new rules.
Meanwhile, out on the track the real action was getting going.
It is fair to say we had a good day. Four 40-minute sessions with Danny running a total of 72 laps and Lee 73. As expected, Danny was immediately on the pace and running consistent fast laps and jostling for fastest time with Andrew and Glenn Irwin on the new Honda Fireblades. Lee was still trying things and building up speed, running well in to the top ten.
Towards the end of session four, minds started to turn to the final timesheet and end of test bragging rights. Trust me, the timing screen is the first thing the riders look at when they come in! With a bit under 20 minutes to go, Danny and Lee went out on new tyres for their final long runs – not just three lap specials in search of a time. With three minutes to go Danny was heading the times, just before the people on short runs turned their laps – O’Halloran, Barbera and Glenn Irwin all bettered his time by fractions. And then a pleasant surprise. Lee had been plugging away and on his twelfth and last lap he popped up at the top of the timesheets – fastest time of the day, 14 thousands of a second better than O’Halloran’s time. Although Danny was now P5 he was only 0.081 off Lee’s time. Five riders running close to lap record pace and covered by eight hundredths of a second – I haven’t checked but that’s about two yards in old money.
What a way to end the test. Smart garage, competitive bikes, two fast riders, happy team!
Next Time. Round One.
We know the real work starts in a week’s time, but we can’t wait to get back to Donington Park to see how things pan out in the heat of battle. Three races to look forward to in the new race weekend format for this year’s six round series.
The BSB organisers with their marshals and medics and everyone else involved in putting on a BSB event have done a great job in creating a safe environment for us all to operate in. Because of that we should be able to perform in front of spectators – although with reduced numbers. In the circumstances a great achievement.
The team has done a great job too, both over the winter and in the last few weeks, get everything together in their usual professional manner. Danny and Lee have been working hard to keep up their fitness levels too.
We’re finally all ready to go.
If we don’t see you there, make sure to follow us on the television, and our social media channels.