First, a quick update on where things stand after round seven at Thruxton. Lee is now fully at home on his Kawasaki ZX10-RR superstock bike having almost won his race.
So, off to the picturesque Cadwell Park circuit, deep in the Lincolnshire Wolds. Lee holds the superbike lap record. Good omens, even though they’ve swapped classes for this year. To maximise the possibilities come the races, we had a successful test for both bikes on a beautiful summer evening the previous week, trying out the latest forks from our suspension partners, K-Tech.
All set for a dramatic weekend. The circuit layout provides the undulations, and as we found out last time at Thruxton, the races provide the ups and downs.
Lee had certainly benefitted from our test evening and was straight ‘on it’ in his first free practice session. P1 until the last 10 seconds when Farmer on the Tyco BMW pipped his time by less than a tenth. His second run on Friday afternoon started with a bang! Having posted a fast time on his first flying lap, Lee was running purple sectors on the timing screens (denoting fastest time of all runners) when he overdid it in the woodland section and lost control for a moment going in to the hairpin, the slowest point on the track. The bike wasn’t too bad at all and Lee was unhurt. However, losing the rest of the 30-minute session was far from ideal. The time Lee set on his first lap was still good enough for P6 by the end.
Superstock qualifying consists of one 30-minute session, the riders free to come in and out of pit lane at will. The usual pattern is to go out on a new front tyre and a used rear to run for six or seven laps before coming in for a brand-new rear, ready for the final push. When Lee came in he asked for a quite significant set-up change – slightly harder fork springs. This meant he lost time as a result of missing set-up time in FP2. Back out and into the late session traffic. Lee got very frustrated but fought his way through to qualify P3 on the front row along side Farmer and Billy McConnell on the Suzuki. His lap time was an impressive 1.28.9, faster than some of the superbike boys.
Lee had a strong warm-up on Sunday morning, finishing P2 while recording a string of consistently fast lap times – race pace.
The race distance was reduced to 12 laps to make up time after an incident in the previous race. It would be a flat-out sprint with no tyre or fuel worries. Lee flew off the line and tucked in behind Billy with Thruxton winner Elliott and Farmer on his tail. While they slugged it out, Lee was putting maximum pressure on Billy in the hope of forcing him into a mistake. Billy was making shapes on his Suzuki and Lee got past into Charlies – his favourite corner – only to run slightly wide and let Billy back through. Same point a couple of laps later and it was Billy’s turn to make a mistake and with four laps to go, Lee and Farmer were straight through. Elliott, dropping back by this stage, left Farmer to push up to Lee and pass him on the fast Park Straight. Although Lee was flying, the BMW was a threat. Two corners later the BMW was flying, literally, as it was airborne at the Gooseneck as Farmer tried to make a break. It’s steep downhill and the crash looked nasty as the bike landed for a second time, a couple of feet from its rider who fortunately was able to walked away.
Billy made another small mistake and despite his best efforts to mount a final attack, Lee was looking smooth and in control as he reeled off the final three laps to take the flag by 0.4. OUR FIRST WIN AS A TEAM!!
Lee, his family and all his local supporters were delighted, and a few tears were shed. (We let Lee’s mum, ace signaller Sam go up to the podium to collect the winning team trophy).
Lee has worked hard with his mechanics Lee and Tom, and K-Tech suspension technician James, to get the bike just how he likes it. Well done boys.