Leon Haslam is getting closer to unlocking the potential of the Honda
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship saw an epic WorldSBK Race 1 at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. The Motul Portuguese Round saw a thrilling duel at the front but there were plenty of stories further behind, as Leon Haslam (Team HRC) achieved his best full-race result of the 2021 season, in the battle for the podium from the start and even leading the battle in the early stages.
Starting from the front row for the first time all season, Haslam got a solid start, and the ‘Pocket Rocket’ was up in fourth in the early laps. Following Jonathan Rea’s (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) crash at the end of Lap 5 at Turn 15, Haslam was promoted into third, but was soon caught and passed by teammate Alvaro Bautista and super-sub Loris Baz (Team GoEleven). Haslam, despite a slight fade and running wide at Turn 1, would eventually recover and concluded the race in fifth, his first full-race top five of the year and his sixth consecutive points-scoring finish.
Speaking after the race, Haslam commented on Race 1 at Portimao: “Honestly, I was a little bit disappointed. I was quite happy with the bike as it was quite stable, and the lap times were very consistent. I was losing a little bit in the braking; I had a bit of a funny feeling with them. I seemed to be losing a lot of speed over the start and finish straight compared to the other guys and Alvaro. However, in the last sector, I was 0.2 or 0.3 quicker than everyone every lap. There’s lots of positives and I’m not so far from the podium; I’d have like to be closer in the battle for the podium.”
Talking about the up-turn in form for the HRC project, Haslam said: “For sure, we’ve done tests in Barcelona and Jerez, so when we go testing, we can make improvements on the bike. I haven’t capitalised on that in the last few races, but Alvaro has with the podiums. Honestly, we’ve made a step and you can see it in the results. There are still areas that we need to improve but it is nice that we are making the steps necessary, and we are closer to the podium.”
The Tissot Superpole Race starts at 11:00 local time (GMT+1) and you can watch it with the WorldSBK VideoPass!