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WorldSBK Aragon #2: Haslam finally finds podium-pace consistency

Honda's Leon Haslam rode to a season best of fourth place in the final Aragon #2 Teruel race, for reasons of consistency as much as speed from his all-new CBR1000RR-R SP.

So far, setup and performance have been a movable feast, then an inexplicably movable famine until race two on Sunday.

“That was the best and most consistent I have had from the bike,” Haslam told bikesportnews.com. “In the last races we have been fast for morning warm-up, or a session, or qualifying has not been so bad - but we have never put a full race together.


"We have had some deciding factors. We have gone backwards or crashed or it has honestly not been enjoyable riding. But this race was more consistent.”

Not easy of course, but better for the race itself, in which he could fight.

“I got caught a little in the first laps with Toprak,” he said of race two. “We lost the gap to the first three but after this the pace was good. I rode with Chaz who has an unbelievable record around here with Ducati and for me this was the best race we have had.”

Recent tests have helped, in settings and with some, but not all new parts.

“We had a good test here after Portimao, we tried some very good items,” said Haslam. “Unfortunately we did not get to run all these items at these races so we still need to clarify some of the parts. But mainly I think we have found our base for the bike we have right now.

"Honestly, in Jerez and Portimao I don’t think I did one lap with the same bike, so come raceday it was always difficult to make 18 laps and it was always a different feeling to what I expected. This weekend we have hardly changed the bike and every session we have got better and better.”

Haslam now has a better idea of the basic strengths and weaknesses of his bike, as it stands at least.

“We have good strengths now in the braking; we have got the bike much more stable for this,” said Haslam. “I was fighting a lot with the engine brake but now we have a stable base of the bike we are stopping the bike much better.

"Honestly, right now we lack a little bit of I would say experience of the exit of the corner. Some corners we are very strong, others we have to fine-tune the balance of the grip that we have versus how the traction control is working.


"Alvaro is working this very well and from the chassis side and tyre side he has been using the soft tyres pretty much all the races. This is the first time I have used an X-tyre in the races.” Another top rider getting a top result in a long race on an X tyre…

Haslam has not signed for next year yet and he says this is as much to do with the fact that nobody really knows what next year’s championship is going to look like, especially if long-hauls are still not on the card.

“We are still understanding what the championship itself is going to do,” said Haslam. “If it is going to be a world championship or a European championship, this is the biggest thing and honestly I am really happy with the team they are happy with me but we have to see what happens in the next weeks.”

There is the possibility that the Motorland back-to-back races Honda and Haslam more than others – real race data not test data on the same track? Yes and no it seems for Leon.


“Last weekend, race one and the sprint race was a disaster,” he said. “I nearly pulled in in both races because I was having some serious problems, but then the last race of last weekend we had a really good battle with Alex and Toprak and I managed to beat them on the last lap.

"So for me this was the first race of the whole year I could fight to the last lap. And although it was only for seventh place, it was the best feeling I have had.

"The frustrating side for me is that in morning warm up I have made race runs and lap times that should be top three, top four, top five, but come raceday we have always had some things that have not been the same or I have struggled with.

"We have been trying to keep that consistency and balance better because that is what we have been missing, not necessarily the pace, it has been the consistency.

"One lap I make a 1’49.9 with a race tyre but one and half hours later I am one and half seconds slower. So for me, this is what I have been trying to understand and keep better. We have and we have made it more stable and consistent and much easier to ride.”

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