HASLAM ‘NOW WE MUST BEAT BYRNE’
Kawasaki rider is determined to stop Shakey’s charge towards the 2016 title at Cadwell Park this weekend
Byrne has been almost unbeatable over the last three rounds, culminating in a commanding double at Brands Hatch three weeks ago. But Haslam had a cracking test at Cadwell Park last week and now reckons he can get his JG Speedfit Kawasaki ahead of Shakey’s Ducati.
Remarkably, Haslam still holds the Cadwell lap record from his BSB days with Airwaves Ducati in 2007, but both he and Byrne matched it during testing at the quirky Lincolnshire track.
Byrne currently sits 25 points ahead of Haslam in the standings and more crucially has a 14-point advantage in podium credits, but that’s something former WSB star Haslam is determined to chip away at before the Showdown kicks off at Donington next month.
“We have to beat Shakey this week- end and at Oulton, so that we can get the podium points on a more equal footing before the showdown,” Haslam told MCN. “The Ducati is strong, there’s no doubt about that. They’ve got a full factory bike with a lot of support and they’ve done a good job with it.
“Shakey is no mug, he’s got so much experience in BSB. The team has got a great package but I believe we’ve got one that can beat him.”
While Byrne has dominated the past three rounds, it’s been a case of damage limitation for Haslam after struggling in practice and even qualifying. While he was often able to turn it around for race day, as we saw at Brands Hatch where he took two second places, he has been unable to beat Byrne.
“We needed last week’s test,” he admitted. “We’ve lacked testing time with the way the calendar has been and the commitments the team has had with the roads. It’s been a non-stop rollercoaster and in the last 11 weeks I’ve been to Japan five times with the Suzuka 8-Hours and testing; it has been a long old slog.
“For the last few rounds, every weekend has been a grind; it’s not been easy and we’ve been out of the top 15 before Superpole. No weekend has gone as planned or as smoothly as we’d have liked, but after our test I’m feeling good for Cadwell. I want to be able to go into FP1 already able to set a time good enough for first or second and then focus on putting that into a race distance so we can win on Monday.”
Cadwell Park is the only circuit on the calendar where the latest generation of BSB riders haven’t bettered an older lap record. Haslam’s record, set on the Airwaves Ducati 999, is almost 10 years old and while a number of riders have beaten it in testing and qualifying, nobody has got close to it in a race.
“I’m pretty sure the lap record will go this weekend,” he said. “I’m confident I could have been under it if we’d tried a new set of tyres with the setting I preferred. The pace in BSB is quick this year and you have to be on lap record pace or better if you want to win.”
With solid testing at Cadwell under his belt, Haslam is on a high