He was the fastest rider over the two-day period with the World Endurance team Kawasaki France at Le Mans but ended the week with a spectacular crash at Snetterton where he was testing the AIM Yamaha in preparation for the forthcoming British Superbike championship.
“The test at Le Mans went really well. The weather was cold and cloudy, with the temperature ranging between six and 10 degrees but the second day was quite sunny. It was ideal for us really as we need to test in cold conditions because endurance racing continues through the night when the temperature drops,” said Steve.
“We were on the pace throughout, lapping about a second faster than last year. We made some good changes to the bike and tested some new Pirelli tyres. We still have a few more adjustments to make and these will be done at the final Le Mans test just a few days before the Brands Hatch British Superbike opener at Easter.”
But when he arrived back in the UK for the Snetterton test with AIM Yamaha on Saturday Steve was greeted with foul weather conditions. It was misty, cold and a strong easterly wind blowing with some light rain making track conditions hazardous and the team decided to give testing a miss on Saturday preferring to wait and see if the weather improved on Sunday.
“There was nothing to be gained by going out in those conditions,” said Steve. “The weather forecast for Sunday promises a dry and sunny day so it makes sense to wait.
“The bike has done quite a few miles on the dyno but this is the first time on the circuit for us so we have plenty of testing to get through.
Sunday’s opening session saw Steve put in some good times but after eight laps the bike developed an oil leak causing him to crash.
“My foot slipped off the peg and I realised too late that there was oil leaking from somewhere,” explained Steve. “And as I negotiated the Esses the bike just flicked me off.”
The second session went without a hitch but on returning to the track for the afternoon session it all went wrong. Steve appeared to be comfortable on the bike and on the pace but as he followed Greg Lavilla into Russells he suffered a massive high side and crashed heavily.
“I looked up and saw the bike already on fire and heading towards me at a fast rate of knots. I rolled out of the way and it missed me but then I realised that my ankle and back were hurting. But there is nothing broken and I am relieved just to have some heavy bruising to contend with.
“The bike is more or less ok as well. The damage is mostly cosmetic, fairing etc and the fuel tank but other than that is fine. It is a shame I couldn’t have spent more time out there but these things happen. Obviously Brands Hatch will now be a big test over the Easter period.”
Steve returns to action at Le Mans on April 3 & 4 where he will conclude his testing for Kawasaki France in preparation for the opening round of the World Endurance series, the Le Mans 24-hour race on April 20 & 21. He returns to the UK for the season opener of the British Superbike championship with AIM Yamaha with testing on April 7. Qualifying is on April 8 with racing on Easter Monday, April 9.