Imola WorldSBK: ‘We have one big problem we need to solve’ - Haslam
Leon Haslam’s second WorldSBK race at Imola was again compromised by engine braking issues meaning he finished off the podium again while team-mate Jonathan Rea dominated.
Haslam has been struggling to find a balance between changing his riding style and the Kawasaki’s electronics package which doesn’t allow him to brake as he is used too, making it very hard to pass those around him.
“I had exactly the same problem as in race one. I could not pass, could not follow the guys. When I had a gap I could go really fast. Same problem I have had all weekend,” Haslam told bikesportnews.com.
“Compared to Jonathan we are losing a lot on braking but on a positive note, in cornering, in the exits, and how I adapted my style in other areas, we made good steps. Jonathan is very good here and I knew it was going to be a tough weekend trying to adapt my style, from a braking point of view, with the things I am struggling with.
But it was a lot harder than I expected. I struggled against Toprak even on the same bike from a braking point of view. That was tough. We will take a fifth and a sixth but that was a bad weekend for me.”
With Toprak Razgatlioglu some people’s favourite to move up to the official KRT squad next year, he was asked if it was particularly hard to beaten by him in race one. “When you have a problem you have a problem,” he said.
“He beats me when, it is like you say your front brake fails and someone beats you. It is not because he is riding it better or faster it is because you have a problem. If he starts making podiums and beating me in the championship then he deserves it. But for a one-off race where I have a problem, then I will carry on doing what I am doing.”
Haslam was one of those ready to race in the rain. “My first ever go in the rain this morning (on the Kawasaki) and I was P2. I only got two laps in. I felt really good in the rain and I was quite disappointed the race got cancelled, to be honest with you.”
Haslam as confident that he would be part of a winning pairing in the wet, but the follow-on question from that must be who would have been first - him or his team-mate and four time champion Jonathan Rea?
“I think we would have been one-two in the wet,” he said. “From this morning I did not push and we were already six seconds faster than Toprak – just so you know – in the rain.
“I felt good and after only two laps in the wet on the bike, I am really happy. Who would have been first and who second? Johnny is fast out of the blocks in all conditions, and he has been on the bike for four years.
“It has taken four years to be that good on how he has adapted the system. I am getting frustrated because I am not maximising my riding style for the bike after four races; he has had four years. The rest of the situation, the angles, the turning, the riding the bike, I am actually quite happy where we are. But we have a major thing we have to adapt, or the bike has to adapt to me. We have that one issue we need to solve.”
Haslam refutes that it may be something to do what has been seen as his legendary hard braking style.
My style of braking, I would say, is the same as most and that is not suited to this bike. The way Jonathan has adapted his braking is what is making it work really well. If you look at the last four years with Tom, he had exactly the same problems.
“It is a style and I am trying to change, but I jut can’t do it just yet. At some tracks it is not an issue, but at this track, with heavy braking into the chicanes, it was a big issue.”