The season opener had it’s fair share of challenges for the Kuba and his Lloyds British Moto Rapido Ducati Panigale R.
A promising test at Donington in the previous week gave us the expectation to be battling at the front but a fast crash at Craner Curves just 5 laps into the season caused a few more problems than expected.
The crash damage was extensive including many electronic components so the team worked hard and well to complete the rebuild and cleaning job to prepare for the second practice session on day 1. With the bike assembled Smrz completed a test lap which showed a running fault thought to be an electrical issue. Hardly surprising given the amount of mud and water the bike had endured.
The work then began on finding this problem into the night and again the next morning. The team analysed the data collected and began working the problem through. After extensive diagnostics and replacing all the suspected components, including main wiring harness and engine control unit the fault persisted.
With the 35 plus strong grid in BSB Superbike the regulations mean only the fastest 30 riders take part in the qualifying sessions. Smrz was P31 having only ridden a few laps in FP1. So with the grid place set the team decided to complete a total strip down and build a new bike for the next day. Replacing all electronic components, wiring and sensors with pre-tested and calibrated new parts, a new motor was installed and new electronic hardware.
The morning warm-up session was a successful test of the bike but being almost 3 hours set-up time behind the others had the whole team at a huge disadvantage.
Poor luck struck again when the rear Pirelli slick tyre had split on the formation lap, this was spotted on the grid (later confirmed as a tyre fault by Pirelli). There was no option but to pull the bike and swap the tyre. So now Kuba was starting from pitlane with no warm up lap and a fresh tyre. At this point the team decided to use the track time to test as we would have done in the free practice sessions and continue the work on the bike. Now looking ahead to race 2 and round 2.
For race 2, Kuba made a good start and after 1 lap had gained 10 places, but pushing hard to try to and make an early dent into the field he ran on at the Melbourne hairpin, re-joining 45 seconds behind the last place rider. Having decided beforehand to finish the race regardless of what may happen he pushed on back up to P26 gaining the team some valuable data to help prepare for the rest of the season.
Not the test for the bike or rider, but the team performed fantastically under great pressure.