LEON LEADS THE WAY

Tyre gam­ble pays off as Haslam takes Oulton triple and tops BSB ti­tle table

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

Leon Haslam turned the fight for the 2016 MCE Bri­tish Su­per­bike ti­tle on its head at Oulton Park as he moved into the se­ries lead with a dom­i­nant trio of wins at the Cheshire cir­cuit.

Af­ter los­ing vi­tal points to ti­tle ri­val Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne mid-sea­son, it had looked as though Haslam could strug­gle to take the fight to the four­time Bri­tish cham­pion. How­ever, a re­mark­able turn­around for the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team over the last two rounds has seen for­mer WSB run­ner-up, Haslam win four of the last five races to take the cham­pi­onship lead for the three-round ti­tle fight.

Hav­ing bat­tled with tyre life on the softer op­tion Pirelli rear for much of this sea­son, Haslam made the bold move to race on the harder SC1 tyre in all three races, de­spite ris­ing track tem­per­a­tures across the week­end. De­fy­ing a vis­i­ble lack of grip in the early stages, he was able to match his ri­vals’ pace be­fore tak­ing the lead and build­ing a gap with his longer-last­ing rub­ber.

“We took a bit of a gam­ble with the harder tyre, which made things hard work for us as we had much less grip at the start but it paid off in the end,” he told MCN af­ter the race.

“We’d used the hard in pre-sea­son test­ing and we were quick, we used it at Sil­ver­stone too but with the higher tem­per­a­tures as we came into sum­mer we opted to work on the soft but we’ve strug­gled to make that last. With hind­sight, maybe we should have tried the hard at some other rounds as it seems I can be as fast on the hard as oth­ers are on the soft.”

Haslam’s re­turn to form couldn’t have come at a bet­ter time as Byrne en­dured a night­mare week­end aboard the Be Wiser Du­cati to leave the Cheshire track with just a hand­ful of points af­ter a num­ber of un­char­ac­ter­is­tic mis­takes.

“I don’t know what’s been up with Shakey this week­end, maybe this cir­cuit doesn’t suit him and the bike or maybe he’s just been try­ing too hard. That be­ing said, there’s no doubt he’ll be up there for the fi­nal three rounds. The Du­cati has been the pack­age to

‘If I have a bike that’s fast for the last five laps I know I can beat Shakey in a bat­tle’ LEON HASLAM

beat this year but I’m look­ing for­ward to the bat­tle.”

While Haslam may have the up­per hand, he sits just three points ahead of Byrne leav­ing no room for er­ror as the 2016 Show­down gets un­der­way at Don­ing­ton Park this week­end.

“Go­ing into the Show­down on top means ev­ery­thing to me and the good thing is I’m a rider who thrives un­der pres­sure. I’m not re­ally a crasher and when things are good I’m con­sis­tent and can man­age the ag­gres­sion – some­thing we’ve seen some oth­ers aren’t so good at this week­end as they’ve scrapped to get in the Show­down!

“We just need to make sure we can max­imise our pack­age; our bike is re­ally good at get­ting stopped on the brakes so we need to use that to our ad­van­tage while get­ting on top of the tyre life is­sues. If I have a bike that’s fast for the last five laps I know I can beat Shakey when it comes down to a bat­tle.”

Leg-dan­gling Leon on his way to the ti­tle lead at Oulton Park

Haslam was well re­warded for choos­ing the harder tyre

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