It was the 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.
However, since Haslam was wiped out of the second race at Oulton Park in the dramatic incident in which James Ellison’s McAMS Yamaha cut out, the wheels seem to have fallen off for the Bournemouth Kawasaki team.
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 snuck a third place in the opening race.
But 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 been to tests at both Snetterton and Cadwell in the past two months but Haslam was sidelined at both with technical issues.
After missing Knockhill and riding stiff at Snetterton with the neck injury, the squad have allowed their rivals that little bit of breathing space to sneak ahead.
“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 Shane 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 and use this weekend to get a better direction with the bike and learn a bit more and we did. It’s the first time we’ve ran the softer rear tyre all year and it worked really well, but in doing that we’ve compromised some 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 there’s still chance to turn things around, time is rapidly running out with Byrne in dominant form. Haslam now heads straight to Suzuka for the Eight Hours next weekend, but will be back in the UK sharpish for an eleventh hour test at Cadwell Park.
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