Motorcycles Leon Haslam: Kawasaki vote has hardly changed in four years

16:35  11 july  2019
16:35  11 july  2019 Source:   motorsport-total.com

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Leon Lloyd Haslam (born 31 May 1983, in the London Borough of Ealing) is a motorcycle road racer based in Derbyshire, England. After the 2019 World Superbike season with the factory Kawasaki team, for 2020 he is contracted to ride the new Honda CBR1000RR-R in World Superbike Championship

Kawasaki World Superbike rider Leon Haslam has admitted he is suffering similar issues to his predecessor Tom Sykes this season with braking. After a promising start to his Kawasaki tenure at Phillip Island, where he scored two podiums, Haslam has consistently struggled to match teammate Jonathan Rea in the last four rounds. Following last weekend's Imola round, where Rea took his first wins of the year and Haslam came away with a fifth and a sixth, the reigning British Superbike champion lies fifth in the points, behind both factory Yamaha riders and more than 100 points adrift of

Leon Haslam: Abstimmung der Kawasaki hat sich seit vier Jahren kaum verändert © LAT Leon Haslam replaced Tom Sykes in the Kawasaki factory team last winter

At home in Donington, Leon Haslam behind Kawasaki team-mate Jonathan Rea was the one with the most points collected. In the championship ( to world championship stand ) Haslam reduced the gap to Yamaha drivers Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes and has a good chance of ending the season in the top 3. But Haslam is not completely satisfied. He still struggles with the World Cup version of the Kawasaki ZX-10RR when braking.

Leon Haslam: Abstimmung der Kawasaki hat sich seit vier Jahren kaum verändert © LAT Leon Haslam

"I can't be dissatisfied," Haslam sums up after two third and fifth place in Donington. "Apart from Johnny, I scored the most points this weekend, but I still have the same problem."

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He has visited the podium on two other occasions so far this year , at Misano World Circuit and his home circuit of Donington Park. With two rounds of the 2019 series remaining in Argentina and Qatar he will no doubt be hoping to add to that tally. In a career that has spanned over 20 years of top-level international competition, Leon has an enviable WorldSBK record, both with Kawasaki and no fewer than five other manufacturers. Everyone within the Kawasaki family would like thank Leon for all the hard work and success he has achieved with Kawasaki over the years and with KRT in the last year .

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"From start / finish to the two final corners I am faster than everyone else. I lose 0.4 to 0.5 seconds alone in the last two corners. I made up for this gap every lap and slid back again. It felt like a yo-yo, "says the Kawasaki driver.

"If a fight comes to a head on the last lap, then you have to be ready for a maneuver in the two final corners. So my weak point was the decisive point for my results", Haslam is annoyed about the weakness when braking.

Leon Haslam: Abstimmung der Kawasaki hat sich seit vier Jahren kaum verändert © LAT Leon Haslam Kawasaki duel against Toprak Razgatlioglu

But despite the problem, Haslam is quick. "We were able to reduce the gap to third place in the World Cup and took podium positions," said the Kawasaki driver, who was overshadowed by brand colleague Toprak Razgatlioglu on Sunday.

"Toprak is very aggressive on the brakes and drove the two final corners better than me and than Johnny. But we are better than him in the rest of the lap. His braking style is very aggressive," Haslam analyzes. "Sometimes his style works, sometimes not."

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World Champion Jonathan Rea is once again the only Kawasaki driver this season who is consistent enough with regard to the World Cup. "I can't start training like Johnny on Fridays," Haslam comments. "He has known the motorcycle for four years and can break the lap record on lap two. I need two sessions to understand the motorcycle and how to drive it."

Leon Haslam needs more training time

"If I have learned that, then we are close together, but I always lag behind a bit", Haslam explains the reason why he usually ends up behind Rea. "The team expected me to be in the top 5. My expectations were higher. I want to finish third in the championship. We are now constantly on the podium and in the top 5 every weekend."

"I am happy with a fifth place when I know that I have got the most out of it. But there have been many races in the current season in which I finished fifth, sixth or seventh and knew that I did not get everything out" , the BSB champion looks back.

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The challenges at Kawasaki

"It was a new experience for me to be part of a team that won four World Cup titles. Tom (Sykes) and Johnny’s votes haven't really changed in four years. The balance, the spring rates and geometries haven't changed much for four years. I wasn't worried about the bike being competitive. I was worried about whether I could adapt my style to Johnny's, "Haslam admits.

"If we could test for three or four days and I understood how to drive, I was as fast as Johnny. My problems are on courses that I haven't been able to drive for three years. I have to understand which places I have to change my style. I only have two 50-minute sessions for that. That's my problem, "explains the Briton.

"It is not that the motorcycle does not do certain things, because if I brake differently, the motorcycle plays along. I just have to understand it correctly," says Haslam, who started the season strongly: "In most corners I was faster than any other Kawasaki driver on Phillip Island, but I lose three or four tenths of a second in stop-and-go corners. But I can only make up a tenth of a second in the fast corners. "

Haslam expects two Ducatis in Laguna Seca

"To be honest, I'm not satisfied with the results," admits Haslam, who struggled with some limitations this season. In Thailand, a pinched nerve in the back caused problems. Haslam later had an open wound on his ankle.

"I had to put back a bit, but that's not my character. I am not someone who likes to put back. I always want to fight and overtake other drivers in the last lap - regardless of whether it is third or tenth place," emphasizes the Briton .

The WSBK will be guest in the USA at the weekend. "I was on the podium on every track apart from Laguna. I look forward to achieving it now. That is my biggest goal for the weekend. The Kawasaki is fast there. But the Ducatis was fast there too in most years. They will be faster there than here. In addition, Chaz (Davies) is always fast there. Probably both Ducatis will be in the front, not just Alvaro (Bautista) ", Haslam predicts.

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