Superstock rider Danny Buchan put the smiles back on the faces of the MSS Bathams Kawasaki team with a win in his return to the squad. After the Superbike riders struggled with set-up, Danny’s trophy was the silver lining to the clouds that hung over a damp Oulton Park.
MSS Bathams Kawasaki travelled to Cheshire for round three of the MCE British Superbike Championship at Oulton Park hoping to leave the bad luck that plagued the team at the last round behind at Thruxton. The special Bank Holiday race weekend programme was extended to include the cancelled Brands Hatch round, giving Superbike riders Michael Rutter and Peter Hickman three chances to secure strong finishes.
Sunday saw a dry Oulton race with the riders lining up in their Brands Hatch qualifying positions. Setting off from 6th on the grid, Rutter finished in a solid eighth place while Hickman fought his way up from 21st on the grid to finish 16th after red flags reduced the race to an eight lap sprint. Both riders showed they are making great strides in coming to terms with the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, giving the team confidence for the scheduled Monday races.
Despite a dry start to Monday, the rain fell before the first Superbike race of the day. With most riders opting for full wets, Michael Rutter gambled on intermediate tyres – a decision that looked like it may pay off as the race unfolded. Having dropped to last place on the opening few laps, the rapidly drying track came to Rutter’s assistance and he was soon lapping faster than the leaders, setting up the prospect of a grandstand finish for the fans. Unfortunately, just as Rutter was starting to make progress through the field, a damp patch on the track at Druids caught him out and he crashed out of contention. Team mate Peter Hickman rode a solid race, improving on his 17th slot on the grid and finishing the race 11th, narrowly missing out on a top ten place after a race long battle with Dan Linfoot.
The second Oulton race was held on a dry track with Rutter’s intermediate tyre gamble seeing him set a time in race one that secured him tenth on row three, the same row as Hickman in 12th spot. Despite starting well, Rutter struggled with the dry set-up on his Ninja ZX-10R, finishing 15th while an electrical problem saw Hickman fail to finish the race.
Michael Rutter (8th in race one, DNF in race two, 15th in race three) said: “The gamble with the intermediate tyres looked like it might have come off but they seemed to take a long time to get up to temperature, probably due to the cold track. For the first few laps the tyres felt like they were stone cold and by the time I got some heat into them the leaders were a long way ahead. I got my head down and was making good progress when I came up behind another rider at Druids. Unfortunately as I was so close behind him I couldn’t see the damp patch on the track and down I went. In the dry races I struggled with set-up on the Ninja ZX-10R, which was disappointing.”
Peter Hickman (16th in race one, 11th in race two, DNF in race three) said: “Top ten was the target for the weekend and I’m beginning to get to grips with the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. In race one I was up to ninth at one point and in a great battle with three other riders. Eleventh wasn’t a bad result in the damp but we are still not quite there with the dry set-up yet.”
Team boss Nick Morgan said: “It has been a hard weekend and we needed Danny’s win – it’s great to have the lad back with us and he has once again proved his talent. We came to Oulton full of expectation for the superbikes after Thruxton but it hasn’t worked. We lost a lot of the early part of the session due to electrical problems and it put us on the back foot – something we never really recovered from. We need to regroup, have some good results at Donington with the Stockers and then the North West, and get some miles under our belts. Hicky just needs to find some confidence in the bike and that comes with time on the bike.”
In the Superstock 1000 class, Leon Hunt and Sandra Stammova were joined in the MSS Bathams line up by last year’s Superstock Championship runner up Danny Buchan. Having started the 2012 season with a different team, Danny has rejoined the MSS squad after just two rounds and instantly clicked with Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R he had so much success on in his debut Superstock year. After qualifying in second place, Danny led the race from lap two and when the red flag came out on lap 11 he was awarded the win.
Danny Buchan (1st in race) said: “I rode the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R on Friday’s practice and it was ‘boom’ I’m back home. The bike felt fantastic from the word go and qualifying went really well, it was like I had never left and I stuck the bike in second spot on the grid. The race was close, I knew there was someone behind me and I was waiting for them to have a go at me. I was afraid that if I let one past they would all come through – I didn’t realise there was six seconds to third! This weekend was much better than the first two rounds and it’s great to be back with MSS Bathams Kawasaki – now the championship is on!”
Leon Hunt (19th in race) said: “I made a mistake on the first lap and had to run off track to avoid the other riders which put me down in 24th place. I recovered well and made it up to 17th and got into a bit of a rhythm but made another mistake, which put me back. I was catching the group ahead so I know I have the speed, I just need to convert it into a good finish. I like Donington, it’s a good track for me, so I’m looking forward to next weekend.”
Sandra Stammova said: “The Superstock shootout race was a disaster as one of my contact lenses fell out on the second lap! I had made a good start and passed a few people but as soon as the lens came out I couldn’t see where I was going and ran off the track twice. It was just bad luck and I’m going to get surgery on my eye in June to stop this happening again. Until this point the weekend had been going well. We made some big changes in second qualifying and I lapped two seconds quicker and gained another half second later in the session, we were improving every outing but just ran out of time in the end. The next race is Donington as a support race for World Superbikes and I’m really looking forward to that, it’s just a bit frustrating that we are going to be limited on track time again.”