The MSS Bathams Kawasaki squad approach this weekend’s opening British Superbike round at Brands Hatch cautious optimism, with four new riders and a new set of technical regulations.

The team started the year strongly at the circuit last season with good results in both Superbike and Superstock.

Like many other teams, the Essex based team have had limited testing over the winter and will be using the additional day of practice on Friday to ensure they have the best chance of success for their Superbike and Superstock riders.

The short ‘Indy’ oval circuit and high grid numbers mean that a good qualifying run and fast start off the line will be essential, especially as all machines this year will be running without launch, traction or wheelie control.

Veteran Superbike rider Michael Rutter has made the switch from many years of V-Twin power to the new Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and admits he still has some acclimatising to do. However his tally of 370 races and 28 BSB wins signals that he has the necessary experience to get the most from his machine in any conditions.

Michael explains, “Basically I think the first couple of rounds will be a learning curve still which is mostly down to me hopping from a V Twin power delivery to that of a screaming 4-cyclinder machine. That said it will definitely help having an extra days practice on Friday to help with set-up and checking on tyre life.

The aim of the weekend is to get two good strong finishes and points, it’s a long season and the way the scores are zeroed after nine rounds means that you have to be use your head and think of the long game.”

Michael’s Superbike team-mate Peter Hickman will be riding the latest generation of the Ninja for the first time in anger this weekend and is excited about the prospect. Peter said, “I’m really looking forward to the weekend but realistically I know that round one will be tough, there’s an awesome grid of riders and I’m only a few days into riding a new bike.

I think if we can come away from Brands with a couple of top ten’s then that will be a good start, we can build from there. Brands Indy hasn’t been always my favourite track in the past but this is a new bike and a real high level team so it should be much better. I’m still looking forward to it though and fingers crossed the weather holds out!”

Nick Morgan explained, “There’s a real sense of anticipation in the workshops and from my point of view it’s a case of putting into effect all the things we’ve worked on over the Winter.

In years gone past all the main teams practised together abroad and in the UK but that hasn’t happened so it’s very difficult to gauge where everyone is at. The bikes will all work slightly differently under the new rules and how the lack of traction control will affect the tyres over race distance- that’s probably the biggest unknown.

It would be very easy to sit here without turning a wheel and say we’re going to set the world on fire, as I’ve just read from some riders, but lets see how the weekend progresses and we’ll take stock at the end of each day. It’s a long season but I’m quietly optimistic.”

New Superstock riders Leon Hunt and fast female racer Sandra Stammova have no real pressure on them from their team as they still very are early in their careers but both are determined to make a good impression at round one.

Leon, who lives in Essex but originates from Brighton, drives past the circuit on a regular basis and can’t wait to get going at his local circuit, “I’ve always gone well at Brands Hatch in the past with podiums in the R6 Cup and Superstock 600. I had a shocker in my first go in the 1000’s last year but I’m pretty sure I know why- which is half the battle.

I don’t mind the track in the wet but no-one really looks forward to rain I guess! I’ve just seen my bike and leathers in their new livery and that’s got me properly revved up for the first race now!“

Sandra Stammova is relishing the prospect of starting her first real year of racing uninjured and without problems, “I am really looking forward to it, I know it will be extremely tough as there could be as many as 59 riders and only 36 can get on the grid, it’s such a competitive class.

However I’m feeling so much more confident and positive than last year and will be pushing from the start of practice to get up there and keep improving.”

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