Leon strug­gling:

Haslam on the back foot

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

It may have been a dream start to the 2017 MCE Bri­tish Su­per­bike sea­son for the JG Speed­fit Kawasaki team with Leon Haslam and Luke Mossey shar­ing the first four vic­to­ries of the year, but in re­cent races the wheels seem to have fallen off at the Bournemouth Kawasaki team.

The pre­vi­ous round at Snet­ter­ton marked the first two races of the year in which a JG Speed­fit Kawasaki didn’t fin­ish on the podium, and that would also have been the case at Brands Hatch this week­end had Haslam not nicked a de­ter­mined third place in the open­ing race.

So what’s gone wrong for the Jack Valen­tine-man­aged out­fit? Ob­vi­ously Haslam’s Knock­hill crash and sub­se­quent in­jury didn’t help, but a se­vere lack of test­ing has ham­pered the 2016 run­ner-up. And it’s not for lack of try­ing, the team have tested at Snet­ter­ton and Cad­well in the past two months, but Haslam was side­lined at both with tech­ni­cal is­sues.

Af­ter miss­ing Knock­hill and rid­ing with a neck in­jury at Snet­ter­ton, the squad have given their ri­vals a bit of breath­ing space.

“I’ve not rid­den prop­erly since Oul­ton,” Haslam said af­ter race two. “I’ve missed all the tests with prob­lems and was in­jured at Knock­hill and Snet­ter­ton, so we’ve been re­group­ing this week­end.

“Of course, this isn’t where we want to be, we want to be chal­leng­ing Shakey, but we also need to pre­pare for the Show­down and get back to a bike we’re happy with.

“We had no choice but to try to use this week­end to get a bet­ter di­rec­tion with the bike and learn a bit more. It’s the first time we’ve run the softer rear tyre all year and it worked re­ally well, but in do­ing that we’ve com­pro­mised other ar­eas so need to go test­ing, re­ally!

“I don’t think peo­ple re­alise just how much you can do in a test day com­pared to a race week­end. One day with no is­sues is like half-a-sea­son of rac­ing. To try and test in 45-minute ses­sions is pretty much im­pos­si­ble.”

While team-mate Mossey has en­joyed more test­ing time than Haslam, the young gun has ex­pe­ri­enced se­vere brake fade in three con­sec­u­tive races, two at Snet­ter­ton and then in the first race at Brands Hatch while fighting for the lead. The team had been un­able to find a rea­son for the mys­te­ri­ous re­cur­ring is­sues but they were fi­nally re­solved for Sun­day’s sec­ond race when Mossey fin­ished fifth.

Mossey is now 29 points be­hind Byrne in the ti­tle race with Haslam a fur­ther two points back, but more cru­cially the Du­cati man is now 10 points ahead of Haslam in podium cred­its.

While there’s still time to turn things around, it needs to hap­pen soon with Byrne in dom­i­nant form. Haslam now heads straight to Suzuka for the 8-Hour next week­end, but will be back in the UK as soon as pos­si­ble for an eleventh-hour test at Cad­well Park.

‘We want to be chal­leng­ing Shakey, pre­par­ing for the Show­down’ LEON HASLAM

Haslam wants to be closer to Byrne

Haslam (91) sal­vaged a third­place fin­ish at Brands

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