BRANDS HATCH BACKLASH
Haslam on podium but team rage at unfair advantage
In front of his home fans, Be Wiser Ducati rider Shane Byrne romped to his first double victory of the season, leaving Kawasaki-mounted rival Leon Haslam languishing in his Panigale’s wake. But when the chequered flag fell on Sunday, a war of words broke out between the two teams, with Haslam’s Gbmoto Kawasaki team boss Mark Smith-halvorsen accusing Byrne’s Ducati team of not playing within the spirit of the BSB rules by running a fully factory supported Ducati superbike. As the season reaches crunch time, expect more tempers to flare as BSB 2016 nears the Showdown phase.
A BSB team boss has slammed Shane Byrne’s team for not acting within the ‘spirit’ of the championship’s rules.
JG Speedfit Kawasaki chief Mark Smith-halvorsen has raised questions regarding the parity of the MCE British Superbike field after Byrne’s Be Wiser Ducati dominated proceedings.
Four-time champion Byrne has been almost unbeatable at the last three rounds, leading Smith-halvorsen to speak out about a number of concerns regarding the ‘spirit’ of the rules and series, suggesting the PBM squad’s direct support from Ducati gives them a significant performance advantage.
JG Speedfit’s Leon Haslam twice finished second to Byrne this weekend, but Smith-halvorsen has suggested the series is no longer a level playing field given Ducati’s input.
“I do not know how we are expected to compete against the Ducati, which has shown a clear performance advantage over the last two or three rounds,” he told MCN. “They have been allowed to buy a full factory World Superbike from Ducati and are essentially racing out of Bologna.
“They are getting factory upgrades from Italy and full support from the factory including personnel. Ernesto Marinelli (Ducati SBK project director) was at Knockhill and Shakey’s crew chief (Giovanni Crupi) is significantly positioned inside Ducati’s development team – and that’s what we’re racing against.
“If you look at the essence of this championship, the way it is promoted, there should be parity between manufacturers – a level playing field. I don’t think that level of factory support fits that mould. I don’t want to take anything away from Shakey, he is one of the best riders out there and is riding fantastically but it does not seem to be a level playing field at the moment.”
Despite these concerns, both SmithHalvorsen and the rest of the team, including Haslam, are confident they can take the fight to the Ducati when they get back on track with the development of the 2016 ZX-10R.
Haslam had been off the rostrum for the last two rounds, with all three of the team’s riders complaining about inconsistent power delivery restricting the way they can ride. While these issues are yet to be resolved, Haslam was able to ride around them for two strong results in Sunday’s races.
“I didn’t expect to be anywhere near Shakey this weekend,” he admitted. “I do think he had a bit in hand and also had a bit of bad luck but we should have taken advantage of that.
“We’re making good progress in lots of areas but we still need to conquer the main issue which is with that throttle response. We’ve made small steps, and while the linearity of power after the initial touch is much better that first touch is worse than we’ve ever had.
“I feel we’re getting the most out of what we’ve got right now, but I also think that what we’ve got isn’t even at 50% of its true potential so to be challenging for wins with a bike that has that much more to come is exciting for the showdown.”
‘I didn’t expect to be anywhere near Shakey this weekend’ LEON HASLAM
Two seconds for Haslam but his boss says he’s facing an impossible task