Despite just missing out on getting Danny into the Showdown, the team was in good spirits as we headed North to Oulton Park.
Danny’s luck has turned since he was nurfed off at Thruxton so we were looking for a return to our early season form. Lee would be looking for another superstock 1000 podium and young Matt was keen to put his circuit knowledge to good effect.
Other than the weather, what could go wrong?
Lee Jackson. Pirelli National Superstock 1000. Kawasaki ZX10-RR.
Lee had a very wet Friday as both of his free practice sessions were held in rather unpleasant conditions. P8 on his first run and and then a strong P3 on his second, after some suspension changes in an attempt to better suit the bike set-up to the conditions. It is always difficult when the rain comes and goes, and the track changes from lap to lap.
It was dry for qualifying and Lee was happy enough to round out the second row of the grid in P6. The superstock format for the weekend was for two regular 14 lap races, one on Saturday and one on Sunday – so no long two-part race this time. After his FP2 performance, Lee and the team thought a wet race would suit us best but by race time on Saturday the track was dry, all bar a few patches. It was a hard-fought battle between series leaders McConnell and Farmer, and the usual suspects – including Lee. In the end, Lee dropped back a bit and recorded a P6 finish. Up front McConnell just held off Farmer to retain his points lead.
Lee’s uncle Lee had been out spotting – another ex-racer who knows his stuff. He was complaining that the small amount of traction control Lee was running was holding him back in the acceleration zones off the turns, and there’s a lot of them at Oulton Park. Added together, this was losing Lee maybe half a second a lap. He was reminded he could handle a more powerful superbike with no traction control. We’d switch it off for that evening’s short free practice.
No running on a Sunday morning because of local noise regulations. So it was straight in to race two, middle of Sunday afternoon, and starting again from P6, based on race one lap times. It had poured down for the first superbike race – just as well Danny was safe in the dry – but now the track was drying fast, but not enough to risk the lightly treaded tyres the series runs on. The suspension would be set ‘half and half’ – not as soft as for a full wet track, but with a bit more ‘give’ than would be the case if the track was warm and dry.
Straightaway, the conditions caught out race leader Elliott who crashed out at the final corner on lap one. That sent a warning to the five riders in the chasing pack. As the conditions improved the pace hotted up and now the challenge was whether to risk going off line on to wetter tarmac to pull off a pass. On lap eight, taking just that risk, Lee was caught out at the final corner too and slid off on to the grass. Other than his practice spill at Cadwell, it was his only other crash of the season. A real pity as he was in with the leaders holding P5 at the time. A couple of laps later McConnell ended up paddling through the gravel at the same corner, giving up his series lead to Farmer.
Lee has now dropped back to sixth place in the points with just the final races at Brands Hatch to go.