The 2019 British Superbike season kicked off this Bank Holiday weekend at Silverstone and the weather was defiantly a first for the opening event of the year as temperatures exceeded 20 degrees. Kurt had the upper hand as he attended the Silverstone BSB test just over a week ago and hit the ground running right from the opening session.
FP1 saw Kurt battle it out at the top of the leader board as he bounced around within the top 10 until the closing stages when he secured a P5 finish putting the team in good spirits for the weekend. Matt kicked off the weekend with the aim of familiarising himself with the circuit having missed out on the opportunity to attend the Official BSB Test. He managed to complete 24 laps whilst bringing down his lap time and testing out some changes with the bike following an analysis of the Cartagena test in Spain just a few weeks ago. The session saw Matt cross the chequered flag with a 17th finish.
Following an array of discussions with the team and analysis of data, Crew Chief Josh and Kurt decided to take a gamble for FP2 despite having such a strong result in the first session. They completely changed the geometry of the bike following in a bit to improve traction and improve rear tyre wear. This initial change lead to many more alterations in pit lane during the session which was not ideal but during the final stages when he managed to get back out on track and dropped his lap time by 0.3 of a second. Matt also made significant changes to the setup of his R6 in a bid to hold a line better on the exits of the sweeping corners which Silverstone is well known for. Matt matched Kurt with an improvement of 0.3 form his best FP1 lap time.
The small nature of the Silverstone International circuit leaves the biggest challenge of getting some clear track during qualifying to put down some flowing laps and not be interrupted by fellow competitors touring. Kurt and Matt both faced an element of this struggle however, it was the same for everyone out there. After a night of comparing the data of both team mates, Matt hit the track with the aim of pushing a key brake marker along with a few other items. After running on 3 times at the end of the straight, Matt finally settled down knocking a further 0.2 of a second of his weekends personal best. Kurt spend the best part of the session battling with a bike fault as the quick shifter failed meaning he had to take the old school approach of shutting off for every gear change going down the straights. It was a frustrating ride but he pushed on to secure a P9 qualifying (P12 on track due to the separate GP2 championship running simultaneously).
Saturday afternoon saw the opening race of the season which was an 18 lap sprint in the blistering sun. As the lights went out, so did the elbows entering the first turn with everyone aiming for the racing line. Kurt didn’t have the start he was aiming for as he lost a few positions on the opening laps but managed to settle into a rhythm and make up lost ground. Following some very close racing and having left the circuit onto the grass a couple of times onto the grass at over 100mph, Kurt kept pushing on to take the chequered flag in a respectable P6 having held 5th position for some time. Matt continued to make changes to the bike setup moving into the race in a bid to be more fluent with the bike, this allowed him to further reduce his personal bet lap time of the weekend and despite a strong race bringing home a P16, he was left wanting more from the race to come.
The Sunday 26 lap race was a tough one due to the heat and the challenge of controlling tyre life. Kurt had a brilliant start to the race and spend the first fifth of the race holding on to the leading train. However, the continuing struggle Kurt was facing with the quick shifter lost him some time on the straight and in a bit to keep with the first group he out braked himself locking the bike up and running to the edge of the track. All of Kurt’s attempts to close the gap seemed to have the opposite affect as he pushed into lap times that were new to him but nevertheless completed the feature race in a strong 9th position putting him 7th in the championship standings after the opening round. Matt found himself in a great race during the opening stages as he battled it out and pushed forward but struggled to pass a fellow competitor quick enough before the next group broke away. This left Matt in a lonely race as he got his head down to try and regain lost ground. The closing stages saw Matt cross the finish line to take his first points of the year as he claimed a 14thposition finish. Matt feels that he has learned a lot this weekend and looks to better his results come Oulton Park in two weeks. As for Kurt, post-race analysis revealed that he was the fastest on circuit throughout the whole race in the fourth and final sector of the lap which is small positive to take from the weekend.
The team has grown as we move into the new season and are impressed with the commitment the new starters have given to getting up to speed as fast as possible. Supported by the Young Engineering Student project the new recruits are:
Jack: Warwickshire Garage & Training Association Apprenticeship – Studying Motorcycle Maintenance & Repair Level 3
Doug: Coventry University – Studying Motorsport Engineering (BEng)
Ellie: Heart of Worcestershire College – Studying Motorcycle Maintenance & Repair Level 3
They will be brought along and developed by the teams experienced members including:
Josh: Coventry University – Studying Motorsport Engineering (MEng)
Nick: Coventry University Enrollment – Due to study Motorsport Engineering (BEng)