Haslam has tar­get on Shakey’s back ahead of 2017 BSB cam­paign

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

This year’s MCE Bri­tish Su­per­bike grid might be brim­ming with new tal­ent, but 2016 run­ner-up Leon Haslam has his eyes set firmly on the man who beat him to the crown, Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne, as he be­gins his prepa­ra­tions for the upcoming sea­son.

Haslam nar­rowly missed out on the 2016 BSB ti­tle af­ter a fall at Don­ing­ton Park and a dread­ful week­end at the se­ries fi­nale at Brands Hatch, but the for­mer WSB cham­pi­onship con­tender reck­ons he has the beat­ing of Shakey for 2017 as Kawasaki UK move their fac­tory-sup­ported ef­fort to the Bournemouth Kawasaki squad.

Un­der the JG Speed­fit ban­ner, Haslam’s new-look team rolled out for the first time at Jerez last week with the 33-year-old lap­ping the An­dalu­sian cir­cuit 0.3sec quicker than he did at this point last year.

“The first test went re­ally well,” he told MCN. “It was a roll out test, so we were run­ning stuff in and test­ing a few dif­fer­ent com­po­nents. We weren’t re­ally look­ing at per­for­mance or do­ing race runs or any­thing like that. Our fastest lap came on the harder tyre and I was feel­ing pretty good.

“At the minute we’re rid­ing a ma­chine that’s quite raw and hard to ride, but once we get it all ironed out me­chan­i­cally, I’m pretty con­fi­dent we’ll hit the ground run­ning.

“I was happy to be as quick as I was on what is pretty much a new bike with new sus­pen­sion, swingarm, clutch, en­gine and dif­fer­ent fuel map­ping to what I’m used to.”

With a sea­son now un­der his belt, Haslam reck­ons he knows what it takes to con­quer ri­val Byrne, with beat­ing the Du­cati man re­main­ing his num­ber one tar­get de­spite the ar­rival of 2014 WSB champ Syl­vain Guin­toli and 2015 BSB champ Josh Brookes.

“The main threat is still go­ing to be Shakey,” he ex­plained. “He was on the same bike last year and noth­ing is chang­ing for him so he should be quick from the off. There’s no doubt that there’s some tal­ent com­ing in with Gi­ugliano, Guin­toli and Brookes and it’ll

‘ There’s some new tal­ent ar­riv­ing in BSB, but Shakey is the man to beat’ LEON HASLAM

be in­ter­est­ing to see how they per­form, but for me Shakey is the man to beat.

“I feel like I got the most out of what we had last year. It was hard com­ing back and took a lot of the sea­son to get the bike in a po­si­tion where we could max­imise what we had and I still think we could have done more at the end.

“Our pace was shown with our race wins, but as far as the Show­down is con­cerned it was my Don­ing­ton crash that let me down and then we had a bad week­end at Brands. From my per­spec­tive, I don’t think we could have done much more, I could al­ways look back and say I could have fin­ished sec­ond at Don­ing­ton, but in hind­sight I’m not sure it would have made much dif­fer­ence with the ter­ri­ble week­end we had at Brands.”

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