Leon Haslam’s transition back to WorldSBK from the BSB paddock has proved difficult. Even for the reigning BSB champion, even for a rider with his vast experience, even for a guy who was runner-up in WorldSBK in 2010 and has scored 41 podiums on all sorts of bikes.
But being Haslam he is learning, battling, giving his all and it gave him a fifth place in the final race of the Jerez weekend after heavier toils in earlier clashes. Ninth, sixth, fifth, it was not the stuff of legend but improvements are improvements all the same.
“Honestly, l have struggled all weekend. I lost the front so many times I felt like Marquez. Every session we were struggling with the front traction,” Haslam told bikesportnews.com.
“I ran a little bit more angle and corner speed compared to some of the other Kawasaki riders and I think that has been hindering me, especially as the temperatures have got hotter. I have tried to adapt my style and played around a little bit with set-up.
“I felt in that final race of the weekend I had good pace and could have challenged for that third place, but I got stuck behind Tom for too many laps. Then when I got past him I was pushing too hard, like I was before, making too many mistakes.
My pace at the end was OK but I was just lining Rinaldi up when the red flag came out. Overall, another fifth place, so obviously I am not too happy about the result, but we have managed a lot of problems here this weekend.
“We will take it, we have a test here on Tuesday and we will try and reassess some more things there.”
That test may be just what Haslam needs, even if he and Rea tested at Misano for two days recently – not to mention riding in Japan in readiness for the Suzuka Eight-Hours. Specifically, there does not appear to be anything in particular lined up for the Tuesday test.
“It’s clear that all the Kawasakis have been struggling here and the way I am riding is still not helping that problem, I feel we made some good steps in the braking, which I feel I have been suffering with over the last few races, but the corner entry and losing the front was something quite new that has hindered us just here.”
So for the next test?
We will have a little play around and probably be a bit more radical for the testing rather than the race weekend. I think it is the overall process of everything (in braking). BSB has no EB control, no dynamic control, no nothing. So everything you do in braking, how you pull the brake, what you do with your body, when you apply the brake, is all subject to how fast you stop here.
“With these electronics being so good, you have to brake a certain way to maximise them. My natural style is working against me a little bit. I feel I am changing, and I have changed, so I feel I have made a good step in that area. But, specifically for this weekend in Jerez, it was not necessarily the braking, it was more in the trail brake to off gas section.”
Haslam is still fifth overall, with just under half of his comeback season gone.