Nabbing a full-factory Honda WorldSBK ride on the all-new Fireblade this year was a more than welcome lifeline for Leon Haslam but he has been making absolutely the most of it since he first threw a leg over.
He was fifth at this test, and just 0.456 seconds from the fastest rider Toprak Razgatlioglu while suffering from a heavy cold but says he and the team need to make some big decisions in the next 24 hours.
Haslam told bikesportnews.com that he was COV19-free, saying, “I have been tested for Coronavirus. They would not treat me until I got tested. Just a swab and my temperature.”
Obviously given the all clear for that issue, Haslam used his fast Honda and all his years of experience to set his good lap times as well as working through many new items and settings, despite losing some valuable time on track.
“It is just one of them. We said we needed laps and we have not had any. This morning we I think we did six flying laps, mainly because of the red flag and this afternoon it rained on my out lap, but luckily we got I would say the last 40 minutes, so yeah, it was good.
“The lap times were not too bad, the consistency is there, but we have so many things to try. We are having to disregard a lot of them now, trying to think about the race weekend as well. I only got eight or nine laps there at the end and I was thinking about race tyres for the first time since I have got on this bike.
We have got two bikes so we need to plan it in a good way. We have four or five big things that I would say we need to make a decision on. From there we can make a set-up.”
Haslam knows he is in a different position from some riders and teams, with data and everything else. “Yes you are always developing and trying something that somebody has brought to run, but you have always got something that you know won the race last year, or a set-up that works but right now we have not go anything.
“It’s more important to try these bigger things in all areas to kind of understand what we need to try first because we’re not going to have time to try them all. That is kind of where we are right now.”
It was put to Haslam that his new set-up has many of the aspects required to have a successful race at PI, and that this may be the best chance of a the early rounds to record a top result.
“This place is quite unique. I’ve gone well here on pretty much every bike because it’s how you attack it, how you approach it. It’s about being conservative on tyres. A lot of my strengths suit this style of circuit so, yes, I feel confident that I can be battling with the front guys but at the minute that’s not my focus.
“At the minute, my focus is testing and developing in a positive way. To be honest with you, I don’t feel I can test a lot of the items yet because I don’t feel that up to speed yet, so once I feel I’m a bit more at one with the bike and have a better feeling, I can start to try some of the items they want me to try. Right now, we are still trying fundamental things.”