Leon Haslam, carrying a shoulder injury through some recent races and the summer break, scored fifth place in WorldSBK race one at Portimao.
But it could have been better had he not lost track of Chaz Davies and Michael van der Mark by trying too hard early on.
“I found myself battling with Toprak and honestly I struggled from the first lap,” Haslam told bikesportnews.com at the track.
I was in a good place, battling with Chaz and Mikey, but there were too many mistakes, my mistakes. I did not have such a good feeling with the front and lost it many times into T1 and T3.
“They were starting to pull on me a little so I was starting to push harder and made more mistakes. I lost the gap very fast. When I had calmed down and battled with Toprak it was very easy, and I felt I was inside the limit. Honestly, we need to find a little bit better feeling with the front.”
The near-crashing Alvaro Bautista clawed himself back up to fourth in the race, passing Haslam near the end, but the tough Englishman was nearly back in contention with Bautista after a hard last lap push.
“The last lap was very fast and I managed to catch Alvaro to try something but in the end he was very fast, fast on the straight. There were many areas where I could catch but in the end it was a difficult battle.”
Haslam was also held back by his own shoulder injury – similarly to Bautista – as he explained. “I am going for an MRI scan on my shoulder on Monday. I tore a bicep tendon and that is what I did in Laguna. I actually did it in Misano but then did it again at Laguna. Laguna was tough and the recent test was tough but it is better than Suzuka, and not getting worse - so for me it is getting better.”
During the chat, his rival and soon to be not Kawasaki colleague Toprak Razgatlioglu arrived and politely interjected his own question to Haslam, more of less asking just how fast the Ducati was in passing Haslam.
Leon laughed at the recent memory of Bautista pulling past like Leon was on a moped, and answered. “I know!” before explaining why his tactic to keep Bautista behind him was lost in a dizzying level of Ducati power and speed.
“Always there – on the main straight - you go on the left and then pull to the right to make sure they have to come the long way past. I was waiting for him to come because I knew he would pass. I looked - and he was maybe ten bike lengths past me already. But we are used to that this year.”