Essex gangster Danny Buchan has scored a brace of Pirelli National Superstock titles and in between those, had a couple of turns in the Bennetts British Superbike series. The trips didn’t go as well as the youngster hoped with a few too many crashes spoiling results.
But you can’t fault a guy for trying and God, indeed, loves a tryer. For 2018, Buchan is with the FS-3 Kawasaki team which has former racer Matt Llewellyn as a man with a plan and the steadying hand of former GSE Racing chief mechanic, and everyone's favourite grandad, Dave Parkes to keep it all in line.
By his own admission, Buchan has spent too much time heading for the scenery at a rapid rate of knots during his time in the premier class - peculiar for a rider who took his two Superstock titles with huge consistency - but a change of attitude has possibly been influenced by the arrival of a ‘small human’ in his life.
It is too early yet to tell whether Buchan’s new direction will serve him well for the whole of the year, but a fourth at Donington is a good start.
“I went there with no expectations. We didn’t do a whole lot of riding in the off-season, we haven’t had loads of bike time in the winter. Normally, I like to do a few trips to Spain and get my head up to speed but for one reason or another, we didn’t end up doing any on my own bike, we only had the BSB test,” Buchan told bikesportnews.com.
“It wasn’t the best off-season but we knew it, so went into the first round with open minds. We thought if we score some points then good, if not then it is what it is, work hard and see where we end up.”
It’s a far cry from the Buchan of previous BSB seasons who would try to squeeze the last degree of lean angle to bag one more place and be rewarded with nil points and possibly a trip to the medical centre.
“That is kind of the approach I am taking every race weekend. I will take it as it comes. I think that is a little bit of maturity on my part. It might be because of my beard or my baby, I’m not sure. I think having the small human has matured me a lot - you have to grow up fast.”
Buchan performed creditably at the Leicestershire track, surving a nerf from the skidding Josh Brookes in free practice three to qualify on the second row.
“After an on and off free practice, I put an SC0 in at the end of qualifying and ended up fifth, which was a little bit unexpected. I didn’t think I had that pace but the laps came really easily and I was more than happy to start race one there.
“I’m actually a bit pissed off about that because now I have got to ride fast. Before, if you qualified 15th, you can chip away at your own pace and get to the front, but if you start with the front boys you have to stay there!
“Ninth to 16th is usually a desperate bunch but with the top five, it makes your life a bit easier. I got an horrendous start but got comfortable but on lap six, the tyre dropped off by a second a lap and I couldn’t really ride it. With five laps to go, the vibrations were that bad where the tyre had spun on the rim, I thought I was going to have to pull in.
“On Monday, the damp track is a condition I favour as you’re forced to ride perfectly as if you get on the damp stuff, you’re on your arse.
“Lots of them didn’t look comfortable and I got away with the fast boys and away with Shakey. By the time I had got through him and Glenn, Haslam, Linfoot and Ray had gone. I matched their times for a little bit but couldn’t bridge the gap.
“I had the bellowing Ducati behind me. Off throttle I could hear it, on throttle I could hear it, it is so loud. I didn’t know if it was Glenn or Shakey, but then Shakey pulled a move at Melbourne but I knew he couldn’t make it stick on the damp part.
“I kept calm, hit my markers, chipped away, watched +0 on my lapboard and brought it home. The team hasn’t has the best in the last couple of years, so it was nice to repay them and show what the bike can do. It was nice to have a bike that was fast at the top and bottom ends.
“People don’t see what the teams do in the off-season. A lot of money, time and hard work goes in. Riders are always telling everyone how much time they sent in the gym but it was good to give the team some morale boost.
“Now I have had a P4, people are going to expect me to be there all the time. The package is good, there is no reason we can’t be consistently up the front. This year, I am working a lot differently and I want to be more consistent - and if that means taking 13th places if there isn’t any other option, then so be it. I’m not going to be an idiot and sling it up the road.”