Cad­well Park fight­back sees Haslam close in on Byrne’s lead to keep cham­pi­onship alive

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - OLI RUSHBY BSB RE­PORTER oli.rushby@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

Leon Haslam brought an end to Shane Byrne’s dom­i­na­tion with a com­mand­ing vic­tory in Mon­day’s sec­ond MCE Bri­tish Su­per­bike race at Cad­well Park.

Hav­ing taken four wins out of six races in the run up to Cad­well, Byrne was start­ing to es­tab­lish him­self as a clear favourite in the 2016 ti­tle race, but a fight­back from Haslam at the Lin­colnshire track is­sued a stark re­minder that the fight is far from over.

It didn’t all go Haslam’s way, how­ever, with Byrne stealing the first race vic­tory from the JG Speed­fit Kawasaki rider with a clever move at the fast Chris Curve on the fi­nal lap. Strug­gling with tyre wear to­wards the end, Haslam had no an­swer for his Du­cati ri­val.

“The first race was so frus­trat­ing,” Haslam said. “I felt we were rid­ing hard but I didn’t have any­thing left with the tyre and where he passed me it was purely on ac­cel­er­a­tion and with it be­ing on the last lap I just didn’t have any chance to fight back. I felt re­ally good when I reeled Shakey back in ear­lier in the race, but maybe I should have done it over a few more laps in­stead of two! If the tyre had lasted three or four more laps I’d have been al­right.”

For race two Haslam made key changes in a bid to ex­tend the life of his rear Pirelli in­clud­ing tyre pres­sure and shock set­tings. It left the 33-yearold con­fi­dent he could beat Shakey, but he was also aided by an early safety car de­ploy­ment fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent in­volv­ing Howie Main­war­ing and Filip Back­lund on the first lap.

“Usu­ally the safety car makes tyre wear worse as the tyres cool down a lot, but with it be­ing early in the race it prob­a­bly helped us a bit. I def­i­nitely planned the race a bit bet­ter as I didn’t have to push as hard at the be­gin­ning and was then able to slow the pace when I was in the lead,” said Haslam.

Not only was Cad­well an im­por­tant week­end for Haslam in terms of re­sults, but he feels he learned a valu­able les­son in de­cid­ing which di­rec­tion they need to take with the ZX-10R to chal­lenge Byrne for the cham­pi­onship over the fi­nal four rounds.

“We’ve been up against the Du­cati for the last few rounds so to leave here on top it fires us all back up go­ing into the last few week­ends. If we can bat­tle with Shakey I can beat him, but we need to make sure we have the tyre and the bike to do that at the end of the race. Tyre wear is some­thing we need to work on as it seems the Du­cati is very good at look­ing af­ter the softer tyre.

“I need to go to the next round at Oul­ton Park and win three races in or­der to re­duce the gap in podium points. We know how strong the Du­cati is and that’s showed this week­end as Shakey hadn’t won here for 13 years, but both him and Ir­win were strong.”

It was also a pos­i­tive week­end for Haslam’s team-mates, with a sixth and eighth place good enough to see James El­li­son move back into show­down con­tention while Peter Hick­man moved a step closer to the top six with a strong fourth in the sec­ond race.

‘I need to go to the next round at Oul­ton and win three races’ LEON HASLAM

Haslam turned the ta­bles on Shakey to take race two

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