HASLAM I CAN BEAT SHAKEY TO TITLE
Haslam has target on Shakey’s back ahead of 2017 BSB campaign
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.”