Positives and negatives as Leon Haslam reflects on Honda debut

Leon Haslam says there are plenty of positives to take away from the Honda CBR1000RR-Rs debut despite an up and down weekend in Australia

Leon Haslam - Team HRC Honda CBR1000RR-R

Leon Haslam says there are plenty of positives to take away from his first weekend with Team HRC in the WorldSBK Championship, despite being unable to maximise the new Honda CBR1000RR-R’s pace in Australia.

Lining up alongside big-name signing Alvaro Bautista for 2020, the experienced Briton emerged as the more competitive of the two in terms of raw pace as he placed the all-new machine fifth on the grid in qualifying.

Mirroring that result in race one, just four seconds from the win, Haslam’s weekend fell apart thereafter with an early off in the Superpole Race limiting him to eighth before a collision with Michael Ruben Rinaldi in race two left him 12th and last.

It was a frustrating outcome from a weekend that ultimately promised much as Haslam demonstrated the new CBR1000RR-R is a potential podium contender out of the box with plenty more performance to come from the young package.

“Australia was frustrating for me, as our potential was quite good in race 1. We were fighting for the podium with a few laps to go, despite a few small issues. Sunday was something of a disaster, as the potential was there in terms of lap times, but we crashed on lap 1 of the sprint race and then suffered another crash in the final race of the day.

“The positives were the lap times and where we could have been fighting, while the negative was the issues we had in race 1. But we can learn from this and work to rectify those problems whenever we race next."

With WorldSBK on hiatus amid the spread of the coronavirus, Haslam says engineers are still working hard to ensure the Honda CBR1000RR-R will be even quicker when it returns to track

“The big positive is the effort my team, Honda and HRC are putting in. We continue to communicate and I know the work never stops. They have one goal – to win – so that’s not something I have to worry about.

“I’m still getting emails and calls and I know that people are thinking and analysing the information so I’m happy to be a part of this and looking forward to returning to the track.”