Team Castrol Suzuki sidecar duo Steve Webster MBE and passenger Paul Woodhead are in for a busy weekend at Silverstone when they will be competing in the 4th and 5th rounds of the Eastern Airways British Sidecar Championship.
Webster and Woodhead jointly lead the points table with Team M&M's Tim and Tristan Reeves, after each pairing picked up a win and a second last month at Mondello Park, Ireland.
But after the tight, twisting bumpy circuits of Knockhill and Mondello Park, the championship now takes to the fast smooth tarmac and wide open spaces of Silverstone, and it will give Webster the chance to let his powerful Suzuki GSXR1000-powered outfit off the leash:
"The machines we ride are designed for fast modern tracks, and whilst racing at the smaller venues is challenging and all part of the season, it makes a big difference to get out somewhere where we can get a bit of speed up. The smaller bumpier tracks give us all sorts of problems on set-up, and we now have to adjust that out of the bike and get it really stiffened up for Silverstone. We'll be going much faster, and to cope with the speed we really have make it very taut, and there is virtually no suspension movement"
It's going to be a very hectic weekend for the Team Castrol Suzuki duo with a 12-lap race on both Saturday and Sunday. Two practice sessions take place on Friday afternoon and with only 30 mins gap between them, posting a qualifying time early in the first session is vital:
"You have to do three laps to qualify for the races, but if you have a problem, and don't put in a time that gets you on the grid, you run the risk of not qualifying at all, because with only 30 mins between sessions there is simply not enough time to do anything major. The plan is to get out there, do three steady laps to qualify, and then when we know that's ok we can set about adjusting the bike a bit and hopefully posting a few fast laps," explained Webster, who, with his back up team, then has to strip and prepare the machine for the next day's race immediately after the practice finishes at 6.00pm:
"We've got a lot to do in a short space of time", said Webster who arrives at Silverstone on the back of a comfortable victory two weeks ago in Hungary.
And to spice up the proceedings a bit, Webster will also have to contend with the visit of his main challenger from last year's World Championship, Jorg Steinhausen and Trevor Hopkinson.
It's the first time they've met this season and Webster is keen to see how the German championship-leading team will go:
"So far we've been using the 2003 spec GSXR1000 motor in a 2004 spec LCR chassis, and the whole outfit is about 6kg lighter. I'm hoping that that should allow us to knock off about half a second from the times we did last year. But Steiny has got the 2004 spec motor, which is a bit more powerful. If we can put in a good showing against him this weekend, it'll be a good benchmark test for the following weekend when we go over to Germany to race in the German Championship race at Nurburgring. For that we'll have the Suzuki GB-supplied 2004 GSXR1000 motor ready which has a few internal differences that gives us about another 10 bhp more. If what we have got now is comparable to Steiny, the new motor from next weekend should be pretty good for the rest of the year. So if we can match him this weekend, it'll be nice to know we have a bit extra to come when we meet him again next weekend!" commented Webster
"I'm really looking forward to this weekend and the chance to race against Steiny. He's quick at Silverstone, and it's our first race this year back with the World Superbikes, so there will be a good atmosphere with plenty going on. All our sponsors and friends will be visiting, so, like I say, we're going to be very busy!"
The first race will late on Saturday afternoon, and the second race, round 5 of the series will be on Sunday afternoon.
Webbo and Woody's last visit to Silverstone was last season when they won the World Championship round held there, after setting pole time.
The track was also the venue of Webster's first top level championship win; back in 1982 he won the British Clubman's Championship there, and then in 1983 made his World Championship debut with a fifth place.