Josh Brookes set the pace this week as he wrapped up pre-season testing fastest overall aboard his FHO Racing BMW Motorrad M 1000 RR machine, despite tricky conditions at Silverstone’s National Circuit.
Less than ideal conditions plagued the official UK Bennetts British Superbike Championship tests, with rain and cold temperatures across the schedule compromising two days at Donington Park (25-26 March), as well as two days at Silverstone (28-29 March).
For former BSB champion Brookes, the wet conditions on-track meant he and his new BMW team could work on specific items such as engine braking and evaluating the new 2023 engine spec, as well as getting to grips with the M 1000 RR.
Setting the benchmark time on the opening day of the test (56.155), he worked with his team through the wet weather in each session and continued to top the times on the second day in damper conditions.
For teammate Peter Hickman the test threw up some issues across the days, which saw his experienced BMW team working hard to solve. Despite the issues Hickman wrapped up the test fifth fastest overall onboard his M 1000 RR machine.
The FHO Racing BMW Motorrad team now look forward to the first round of the 2023 season, which takes place at Silverstone across the Easter Weekend 7-8-9 April.
“It’s pretty obvious to say that finishing Silverstone on top of the times is pleasing for me, the team and everyone involved. We’ve been focusing mainly on the new engine as it reacts in a different way to the old one. Not that I have much understanding of the old one, but for the mechanics the BMW reacts differently with the new spec engine, so they have to go through a variety of changes to understand better how to set the engine breaking, as well as the throttle with the way it feels as I accelerate out of a turn.”
“There are some levels we have worked through to basically make the bike run efficiently and that’s more or less where we’ve spent most effort and time, and it’s those fundamentals of what we have to be able to progress later. So, once we get this work done, and to a point where I’m happy we can then focus on suspension, chassis positions and fine tune the other bits.”
“I guess luckily for us and the work we’ve had to do, you can do regardless of the weather and fortunately we’ve been able to make progress on this. We’ve improved the engine braking and the feeling of the throttle in my hand, which must be good, as we’ve gone fastest in what’s been very tricky conditions. As soon as we get some dry track, we can focus on more common changes such as suspension, but during the test we couldn’t really focus on anything else due to the conditions.”
“It’s been the weirdest start to a season I think I’ve ever had, and probably the worst tests I’ve ever had before a season start. It’s not just down to the weather, we’ve had some niggling issues which seem to be haunting me at the moment.”
“However, saying that there are some positives as the bike feels good, so it’s probably fortunate that the issues have hit me and not Josh, as he needs a lot of time to understand the bike more than I do and he’s definitely put in more laps than me. The bike is different for this year, the fairing being a big change, as well as engine spec, a different gear box etc, but overall I know where the bike is already from last year. It’s not an ideal start to the season, but the bike looks mega, the team are all working well together, so let’s see what Round 1 holds.”
Faye Ho – FHO Racing BMW Motorrad Team Principal:
“Despite the weather and a few challenges the team have faced during testing, I’m really pleased how everyone is working and it’s great to have the team back together after what seemed like a very long off-season. There’s been a lot to work through over the days with the new bike and new parts to test, but I’m happy with the progress made and looking forward to Round 1 in just over a weeks’ time.”