After an 8-2 finish at Misano, Leon Haslam was only 37 points behind the World Superbike Championship leader, Max Biaggi. But after some lack of grip from the Pirelli tires on his GSX-R 1000 at Brno this weekend for Round 9, Haslam struggled, finishing 8-10.
His misfortunes continue to minimize his championship hopes; after Brno, Haslam maintains second position in the WSBK Championship, but has some ground to make up, considering he is now 68 points behind Aprilia’s Biaggi.
Nothing was easy this past weekend at Brno for Haslam. He started from the row, and when the races began, he immediately began struggling with the new Pirelli tires the team has been using, which seem to be causing difficulties setting up the bike.
But with four rounds remaining (eight races, 200 maximum points available), Haslam’s championship hopes are not mathematically unfeasible.
Leon Haslam says: “It’s hard to say how disappointed and frustrated I am today. If I thought that the problems were my fault, I’d put my hand up straightaway. We first experienced grip problems with the new tires in Misano. Whatever we tried just didn’t seem to work. We used the new tires in race one there and I had a poor result, so we changed to the older tires for race two, went back to our base set-up and I finished second!”
“We worked with the new tires all weekend and we have struggled all weekend. We did manage to improve the bike a bit for today, but the engine is pushing in almost everywhere and the bike is not easy to ride. The new tires have got more grip, but getting the bike to work with them is another thing. There are a few people who have got them to work, but the majority of us are struggling.”
“The tire in race two didn’t work at all and I almost couldn’t finish the race – it was that bad! I felt that I was going to be highsided all the time and I don’t think I’ve been passed by that many people all year! Cal (Crutchlow) obviously had a similar tire to mine and he felt it was bad enough to pit and change it for another one. Although his second tire was the same, it behaved completely differently and he was able to lap over a second lap quicker straightaway!”
“I’m trying to think what positives we can take from this weekend and my comment is… none. The only thing I do know is that we will not be using these new tires again. We’ll go back to the older tires, a base set-up we know and I am convinced that I’ll be able to lap a lot faster and be challenging for the podium again.”
World Superbike Point Standings (after 9 of 13 rounds):
1. Max Biaggi, Aprilia 352
2. Leon Haslam, Suzuki 284
3. Jonathan Rea, Honda 203
4. Carlos Checa, Ducati 189
5. Noriyuki Haga, Ducati 172
6. James Toseland, Yamaha 160
7. Troy Corser, BMW 149
8. Michel Fabrizio, Ducati 147
9. Leon Camier, Aprilia 138
10. Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha 138