Danny Buchan and the Norwich-based Morello Racing Kawasaki team ended their season on a high note on Sunday when second place at Brands Hatch saw them clinch the 2017 Pirelli National Superstock 1000cc Championship. Buchan ended the year ten points clear of season-long rival Richard Cooper to take his second Superstock title also giving the team their second Championship having previously been victorious in 2015 with Josh Elliott.
Having run inside the top two in both of Friday’s free practice sessions, Danny was in confident mood heading into qualifying in Saturday and a time of 1m27.651s early on initially put him quickest. However, after making a stop for a new tyre, the Basildon rider tipped off at low speed at Druids and, with only seven laps completed in the session, he had to settle for third place and the outside of the front row.
Sunday again saw good, dry conditions at the Kent venue with Danny safe in the knowledge that sixth place would be good enough to see him clinch the Championship. He wasn’t looking for that position though and although he slipped back to fourth off the line, he was soon back up to second and just half a second behind Cooper.
The duo, the class acts of the field in 2017, pulled clear of the rest of the field but although Danny closed to within 0.15s of Cooper with just three of the 14 laps remaining, he wasn’t specifically targeting the race win. With no heroics required, he shadowed Cooper for the remainder of the race and second place, his 17th podium of the season, saw him add the 2017 title to his previous 2014 success.
Meanwhile, new recruit for the weekend Josh Day qualified in 18th place with the Cirencester rider just over a second adrift of pole position. A good start saw him move up to 16th place and, consistently lapping in the 1m28s bracket, he was able to hold his position throughout.
Danny Buchan: “I’m over the moon to have wrapped up the Championship but after the crash on Saturday, which was my fault, it made it a lot more nervous than what I would have liked. I was desperate to get the first lap out of the way and leave the crazy bunch behind me whilst I knew I didn’t need to take any unnecessary risks. Following Richard was all I needed to do and whilst I felt strong enough and quick enough to get by for the win, there was no need for any heroics. Winning races is great but winning Championships is even better so to take my second title feels great. The team have been brilliant all year and we’ve had a lot of success so a big thanks to everyone at Morello Racing Kawasaki.”
Steve Buckenham, Team Owner: “It’s fantastic to be champions again and to do it twice now in three years is a real achievement for everyone connected with the team. It was definitely a nerve wracking race though but, as has been the case throughout the year, Danny and Richard had that little bit more than the rest of the field so edged clear. Danny could have gone for the win but taking the Championship was more important and we’ve done exactly that. We’re only a small team but we keep taking it to the bigger teams, which is a nice feeling but we don’t want to rest on our laurels and are already making plans for 2018.”
Josh Daley had his second outing in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship at Brands Hatch at the weekend and it proved to be another good meeting for the Wigan rider as he took a strong 23rd place finish in the 14-lap race.
Acclimatising to the Kawasaki ZX-10R more and more, the 21-year old’s weekend started steadily on Friday with the 33rd fastest time in Friday’s opening free practice session but, again showing his aptitude on the bigger capacity bike, the afternoon’s session saw him reduce his quickest lap time by over two seconds. And with qualifying again seeing good conditions, he improved by another second with a time of 1m30.953s seeing him line up in 31st on the grid for Sunday’s race.
Sunday saw warm sunshine greet the competitors at the Kent venue and with a brilliant start, Josh completed the first lap of the 2.43-mile Grand Prix circuit in 24th place. The safety car was soon deployed whilst a crash and injured rider were dealt with but the race soon resumed and Josh was quickly back into his rhythm.
Although he was circulating on his own for much of the race, Josh was turning in some highly consistent times to ensure none of the riders behind him caught him up and, indeed, the entire race distance saw his lap times covered by just three quarters of a second. That consistency saw him rewarded at the chequered flag with 23rd place and with two Superstock 1000cc races now under his belt, it puts him in good stead ahead a of a full campaign in the class in 2018.
Josh Daley: “It’s been another big learning curve this weekend but I’ve been delighted with the progress I’ve made. The bike’s more enjoyable to ride than the 600 although you have to respect the power of the 1000 a lot more whilst Brands wasn’t quite as physical as Oulton last month. I’m still setting the bike up and riding it like a 600 but that will come with experience and the important thing was to keep moving forward this weekend, which is what I did.”
“A few of the other Kawasaki riders have been giving me some pointers but the biggest problem in the race was the grip, or lack of it, as the tyres dropped off massively in the second half of the race. I also had a bit of brake fade as well so it was a tough race and there was a lot of carnage on the first lap but I kept out of trouble and made some moves on the other riders. I felt like I was racing properly this weekend and more competitive than last time out and am pleased with the end result so it’s been a more than successful end to 2017. The team have been great all year long so a massive thanks to everyone for making it all possible.”
Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship race (14 laps)
1 Richard Cooper (Suzuki)
2 Danny Buchan (Morello Racing Kawasaki)
3 Josh Elliott (BMW)
4 Chrissy Rouse (BMW)
5 Luke Hedger (Aprilia)
6 Sam Clarke (Yamaha)
16 Josh Day (Morello Racing Kawasaki)
Final Championship Standings (after 12 rounds)
1 Buchan 362pts
2 Cooper 352
3 Rutter 225
4 Rouse 206.5
5 Jenkinson 146.5
6 Law 144
8 Rogers 130.5