The Build base Suzuki team’s preparations for the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship began in earnest this week, with Bradley Ray, Richard Cooper, and new recruit Luke Stapleford enjoying three positive days of testing at Circuito Monteblanco in Spain that concluded today.
For Ray and Cooper it was a case of getting reacquainted with their GSX-R1000R machinery. Ray – a BSB race winner in 2019 – spent the opening day getting back up to speed before working through a detailed testing programme, including various maps and tweaks to the electronics.
Cooper, who was also a BSB race-winner in 2019 and dominated the final Superbike race at Brands Hatch, returns to Superstock 1000 action this year. The experienced Nottinghamshire rider readjusted to the differences between Superbike and Superstock machinery before putting the laps in and making subtle adjustments to suspension setup and geometry. After finishing runner-up in the Superstock 1000 Championship in 2017 on the then brand-new GSX-R1000R, Cooper is aiming to go one better this year.
While he’d enjoyed a pre-season shakedown at Cartagena on a Superstock-spec GSX-R1000R, Monteblanco gave Stapleford his first taste of the bike in Superbike trim. The Leicestershire-based rider and former British Supersport Champion – who completed an impressive 78 laps on the final day of testing, more than any other rider – worked on finding a comfortable base-setting before focussing on generating more grip and adjusting the chassis and electronics to suit.
Bradley Ray: “It’s good to be back riding again. It’s obviously my third year with the team and the big Suzuki so there’s a degree of familiarity when getting back on the bike for the first time, although it still takes a session or two to settle in. But I felt good. We had a few things to try over the three days and spent quite a bit of time on the electronics again as they play a big part in this game, and just tried to get everything working well together. But we’re not making huge changes. For the first time back on the Superbike it felt good, the pace was good and it’s a solid start.”
Richard Cooper: “I feel really good to be fair. We did everything we wanted and needed to do over the three days, and everything’s spot on. Obviously, there’s only so many changes you can make to a Superstock machine, but we made some changes to the forks and put a different shock in it and went faster each time we made a change, so I’m feeling really positive and really confident. We had good one-lap pace but could also put a good run together. It’s only testing but we’re in a good place.”
Luke Stapleford: “I’d spent a bit of time on a ‘Stocker’ to get used to the GSX-R1000R and just get bike fit again, but it’s obviously different again when you jump on the Superbike. That said, I don’t think we can be too disappointed with the first test. We spent a bit of time just getting comfortable on the bike and then worked from there. One key area of focus was just generating a bit more grip, so it meant adjusting the chassis and geometry to improve in that area, and the team has worked well. I think we’re in a good place to keep improving at Portimao.”
The Buildbase Suzuki team will continue its testing programme on March 17-18th at Portimao, in Portugal, before the final pre-season test at Silverstone on April 9th.