Lincolnshire’s very own pocket rocket, Lee Jackson made his British Superbike debut this past weekend at Brands Hatch alongside completing his usual Pirelli National Superstock 1000 duties for the Buildbase BMW team putting in commendable performances in both qualifying & Sunday’s races and marginally missing out on his first points in the top class by a tenth of a second.
|It was an impressive debut for Jackson at Brands
Photo: Buildbase BMW
Having finished his debut season in the National Superstock 1000 class last year fourth overall, Jackson opted to stay with the Buildbase team for 2014 in the hope to battle it out with title favourites Danny Buchan, Hudson Kennaugh and Jason O’Halloran for the championship victory. Following an impressive podium last time out at Knockhill, Jackson sits comfortably in 3rd in this year’s championship and nipping at the heels of experienced Aussie Jason O’halloran ahead of him in second.
As one of Stuart Hicken’s BSB team regulars James Westmoreland was sidelined from the action following a successful surgery on his thumb, 18 year old Jackson received the call up to take the Yorkshireman’s place at the ‘Big Brands Bash’ last weekend, an offer too good to refuse despite the former Superstock 600 champion admittedly feeling “a little nervous” about stepping up onto the BSB-spec S1000RR monster.
Jackson was thrown well into the deep end from the off on Friday, not only due to competing in two classes over the weekend but with the added factor of the Garden of England’s weather making on-track conditions decidedly slippery in practice. In Saturday’s Datatag Extreme Qualifying however, the BMW man utilised the experience and skill of his triple BSB champion team mate Ryuichi Kiyonari showing him the way round in Q1 to climb to 12th position from 21st before unfortunately slipping back into 19th place on the grid for Sunday’s first race. Nevertheless, it a solid performance given the the young rider’s inexperience in the class and not to mention the fact that he had already qualified 3rd on the grid for the Superstock 1000 race just hours before the BSB sessions.
The rookie took to race day in sensational style with his first outing in the Superstock race, duelling with series leaders Danny Buchan and Jason O’Halloran over the course of the 16 lap race and clinching his second podium of 2014 to further solidify his place at the sharp end of the championship standings.
Although, there was little time to celebrate his result due to the race day schedule placing his inaugural outing on the BSB S1000RR immediately after his relentless efforts in Superstock 1000, Jackson was forced to immediately return to his pit box after parking his HP4 Superstock machine in Parc Fermé to make the grid for BSB race one. Jackson took on fellow BMW rider Patric Muff for the points honours in the sizzling dry conditions of the first race, missing out on a singular point by 0.117 seconds to the Swiss rider.
If the entire weekend wasn’t a steep enough learning curve already for Jackson, race two provided one hell of peak with a bundle of incidents and changeable conditions causing considerable disruption to the 19 lap race. While the debuting lincolnshireman finished outside of the points again in 18th he crossed the line as top BMW, much to the delight of his team and giving just a glimpse of his future potential in the feature championship.
Jackson was clearly elated with the opportunity to race with such esteemed company in the top class of British motorcycle racing and judging from his performances, will no doubt be a more regular contender within the next few years. He said: “The Superstock race was good, really fun, and very close. I was leading so I had the pace to win, but unfortunately I got beaten up by Jason O’Halloran on track which pushed me back and I couldn’t quite close back down on the front two. And from the podium I had to rush back to the garage to get out in the first BSB race!
“Switching to a Superbike is a big step. At first they don’t seem so different, especially as they’re both BMW S 1000 RRs. But it’s when you get up to peak power, or when you get hard on the brakes… they are amazing motorcycles. I was very glad to get the chance to try it and I’d like to thank the team for giving me the opportunity. It was a long hard weekend, but I don’t feel too bad now. However I think I might be suffering a bit tomorrow!”