Danny Buchan has admitted he’s looking forward to a chess match in Sunday’s Bennetts British Superbike race and isn’t too worried about early practice times.
But after re-acquainting himself with his FS-3 Kawasaki today and clocking the second quickest time of the day behind pace-setter Peter Hickman, the Essex rider believes he, the team and the bike are in a strong position.
Buchan recently returned from a trip to the famous Suzuka endurance race and says his first goal this morning was to get back up to speed with BSB-spec machinery, but after making a few small changes he was back in his happy place.
“I was riding in Suzuka last weekend for the eight hour, so when I got back on my bike this morning the bike felt a bit different,” he told Bikesport News. “It had more power, the brakes were different, the handlebars were different, the whole bike just felt a lot different so we just said ‘day one, let’s get ourselves back used to the BSB bike’.
“For the first session I just used one tyre to see what I could do on a race run, but I was just a bit off the pace trying to get used to the bike. In FP2, we made some changes to the bike with the chassis and electronics and we made a massive step with the feel.
“I actually changed the handlebars – I would always run really wide ones, but we put the shorter ones back on because I was riding with them at Suzuka, and I actually felt comfortable straight away and the bike felt like my own bike again.”
A winner at the Hampshire circuit on multiple occasions during his title-winning Superstock 1000 tenure, Buchan knows better than most that Britain’s fastest circuit is home to the term ‘tyre conservation’ and believes it will be the most prepared who wins on Sunday.
“For Thruxton, for us and a lot of other people, it’s not just about one lap here. You know who’s been doing their homework when you come into the race.
“That’s what we’re trying to do, just get all our homework done so that come the 20-lap race we’re ready.”
And as for day one front-runner Hickman, who finished over a quarter of a second ahead, Buchan isn’t fazed about his lead and feels it will all come down to a game of strategy.
“It doesn’t really bother me, I didn’t get a slipstream at all and that two tenths or so can come from a slipstream. You see a lot of guys here doing good laps with slipstreams, but Hicky’s been fast in both sessions so that says to me he’s going to be at the front in the races as well.
“It’s more of a strategy thing here – you have to race differently and that’s the kind of race I enjoy, with the strategy side of things where you don’t know what everyone is doing around you. It was like at Silverstone this year – we were all sort of sandbagging at the start and we’re thinking ‘who’s going to go first here?’
“Thruxton is very much like that, so it’d be nice if I can get myself on the front two rows for qualifying and keep out of trouble for the start of the race. There’s not much more I want to do to the bike, the time is going to come from me riding it differently so I’m in a really good place.”