FS3 Kawasaki’s Lee Jackson has stormed to the top of the timesheets as the Bennetts British Superbike Championship returned at Donington Park.
After the longest pre-season in history, British Superbike teams and riders were back out on track for the first time since March, for the final official test ahead of next week’s season opener and it was Kawasaki’s latest entry, Lee Jackson, who ended the day on top.
Jackson lept to the top of the timesheets in the dying moments of session four, finishing +0.014s clear of McAMS Yamaha rider, Jason O’Halloran. The McAMS rider has been putting in the laps since lockdown restrictions lifted, with the team completing private tests at both Knockhill and Croft. O’Halloran’s day didn’t go without its issues, the Australian suffered a small crash at the final chicane in the second-morning session.
OMG Racing BMW’s Hector Barbera put in a stunning performance to finish third on the timesheets, although, no points are awarded just yet. The Spaniard’s quickest time of a 1:06.600 was just +0.017s off the top time in what is an ultra-competitive 2020 grid.
Honda made their first official debut with their all-new Fireblade. The Irwin filled Honda Racing team ended the day in fourth and fifth positions, with new recruit Glenn leading younger brother Andrew. In their first official outing, the Honda Fireblade was only +0.051s off the top time.
Second FS3 Kawasaki rider Danny Buchan ended the day in sixth position, less than a tenth off his team-mates 1:06.583, showing exactly how tough it will be to get inside the top five in the shortened 2020 season.
2020 runner-up, Josh Brookes, was seventh fastest, albeit +0.136s slower than Jackson’s time, with Ryan Vickers in eighth. Vickers sat out the first two sessions before setting his fastest time in the final session aboard his Lee Hardy prepared Kawasaki.
Joe Francis put in a strong showing on his PR Lloyd & Jones BMW finishing ninth ahead of Bradley Ray who made his first official outing aboard his new Synetiq BMW. Both BMW and Honda missed the opening two official tests at Monteblanco and Jerez.
Peter Hickman missed out on a top ten finish, but won’t be two disheartened by 11th place. The Smiths BMW rider was only +0.393s down on Jackson, with his fastest time coming in the third of four sessions.
Luke Mossey wrapped up the final day of test action in 12th ahead of Tarran Mackenzie who focused on continuing to work on setup ahead of next week’s season opener. Let’s not forget that both McAMS and TAG Yamaha’s are running new YZF-R1s for 2020, a bike we have seen win races in both World Superbikes and Moto America.
+0.477s was the difference between first and 14th for Moto Rapido Ducati’s Tommy Bridewell, setting his best time of 1:07.060 in session three.
Kyle Ryde makes his BSB return in 2020, riding for the Buildbase Suzuki team alongside Irishman, Keith Farmer. Ryde ended the day in 15th ahead of Alex Olson who remains in the Smiths Racing BMW Team.
Jack Kennedy is another rider who returns to the top class in 2020. The double British Supersport Champion joins Garry Winfield’s TAG Racing outfit alongside 2019 Brands Hatch podium finisher Dan Linfoot. The TAG Racing duo were P17 and P20 on the timesheets, with Linfoot being +1.5s off the pace.
Between the two Yamaha’s, we saw Christian Iddon who makes his first official return to the Ducati V4 R since March. Iddon worked on continuing to adapt his riding style to the new machine after a long stint aboard the BMW. Keith Farmer was 19th, just over a second down on Jackson.
Storm Stacey makes his BSB debut in just over a weeks’ time, the 16-year-old impressed at Donington Park, finishing the day +1.593s down.
Gino Rea, Josh Owens, Graeme Irwin, Taylor Mackenzie, Bjorn Estment and Brian McCormack all completed the remaining positions, with McCormark finishing the day in 25th, +4.327s behind Jackson, and + 1.413s behind Estment.
As well as Superbikes, the British Supersport and Superstock classes were on track. In Supersport, Rory Skinner dominated proceedings to end the day fastest while Chrissy Rouse lead Danny Kent and Tom Neave in the Superstock class.
The Bennetts British Superbike Championship will return to Donington National next week, kicking off the 2020 season.
Featured Image Credit: FS-3 Racing