Leon Haslam has hit out at Pirelli after a challenging opening weekend at Donington Park.
The JG Speedfit Kawasaki star finished ninth in the opening race after dropping back from the podium battle with tyre issues, and while he was able to finish runner-up to Bradley Ray in Monday’s second outing, he was furious after suffering similar tyre wear and claims he was only on the podium because of the one-line nature of the drying track.
Haslam believes there is a difference in the wear of harder option Pirelli rears produced in 2017 and those produced for the 2018 season, claiming the 2018 tyres wear much more quickly than last year’s.
Pirelli have now used their store of 2017 tyres, but teams may have some left over from testing. Both tyres are exactly the same spec and the Italian marque insists are no differences in the manufacturing process.
“We’ve got a massive issue with the consistency of the Pirelli tyre,” a frustrated Haslam told MCN. “I had the issue yesterday but wasn’t 100% sure and thought it might have been an isolated issue, but I now think it’s something to do with the 2018-produced tyre. They seem to be a second a lap slower and last half the distance compared to 2017 tyres…
“Yesterday the podium guys were all on the 2017 tyres, while myself, Brookes, Dixon – the guys who dropped back – were on the 2018 tyre. Earlier in the weekend I did a race run on a ’17 tyre and I could do 1’29s in my last lap, in the two races I couldn’t even do a 1’32 despite having the exact same set-up and similar track temperature.
“You cannot have people on the grid on 2017 tyres and 2018 tyres, the difference is too big. If we were all on the same it’d be different. On Sunday I nearly pulled in it was that dangerous, today I only got on the podium because it was in dodgy conditions and I was aggressive at the beginning. If it had been a dry race I wouldn’t have been in the top five.”
Responding to Haslam’s complaints, Pirelli’s Jason Griffiths said: “I have spoken to Leon and Jack Valentine, I’ve taken on board the comments they have raised. I’ll send the information in to Italy, await their response and feedback to the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team.
“The tyres are produced in the same way and it’s the same compound and at the moment out of the riders, Leon is the only one I have spoken to who had a problem. The team also tell me Luke Mossey had an issue too, but I haven’t heard from anyone else on that issue.”