WSB: Haslam: 'I need to adapt to the bike, not adapt the bike to me'

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2018 Bennetts British Superbike champion Leon Haslam spent this week’s Jerez test familiarising himself with the World Superbike-spec Kawasaki ZX-10RR he’ll ride alongside Jonathan Rea next year.

Haslam finished the test third quickest, just a second off his team-mate, as he continues to adapt to the machine, riding with full electronics for the first time since his WSB wildcard at Donington in May.

Trying to learn how to ride the bike with electronics, as opposed to his BSB machine which has no rider aids such as traction control and anti-wheelie, has been the focus for the 35-year-old rather than refining set-up.

“I need to adapt myself to the bike and not the bike to me,” Haslam said. “This is a winning bike so it’s up to me to make it work. We’ll get it where I need it but it’ll take time to understand the bike.

“It’s basically a Catch 22 at the minute because we could adapt the bike for my style but I’m riding it wrong. I need to ride it correctly.

“The feedback from the bike doesn’t tell me what I need to do because I’m way faster than Johnny on the entry but it doesn’t help with a laptime. How Johnny brakes and enters the turn is better for this bike than my style at the minute. Tom’s style was totally different to Johnny and mine is halfway between their two styles so I want to try and adapt the best of both styles because Tom was faster than Johnny in certain areas.

“We’ve not changed a spring or a click since Aragon, we’ve left it as it is. We have been playing around with weight balance as with me being a 60 odd kilo rider is a big factor and my positioning on the bike is having a big effect. We’ve tried to move front and rear position, playing purely with weight balance rather than set-up. We need to understand where the balance needs to be and then combining that with how I’m riding.”

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Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing