Haslam on podium but team rage at un­fair ad­van­tage

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week in MCN - OLI RUSHBY BSB RE­PORTER oli.rushby@mo­tor­cy­cle­

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

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