Erstwhile long-time 2010 World Superbike Championship leader Leon Haslam has impressed upon Suzuki the need for speed – straight-line speed – if he is to successfully reclaim the edge in the chase for the crown from Aprilia's Max Biaggi, who has triumphed in the past four races on the trot.
Off the back of an ultra-consistent run in the early rounds – during which he made the podium on nine occasions out of twelve, including three victories – the British star ceded the advantage in the points standings to the rampant Biaggi, who has been utterly imperious since the WSBK circus headed across the Pond to Miller Motorsports Park in Utah at the end of May.
The Italian's unbeatable form – allied to a rare error from Haslam when the former British Superbike Championship race-winner crashed out of race two in the States – saw the momentum and the lead change hands, and he contends that only a sustained push from Suzuki HQ in Japan will effectively remedy the problem in time.
“Suzuki pulled the factory support back in January,” he acknowledged, speaking to Crash.net Radio
at the 2010 Goodwood Festival of Speed, where he rode a replica of his race bike that he now owns himself up the famous Chichester hill. “The package that we had was obviously good enough at the beginning and it still is now, but BMW and Aprilia and those guys are all progressing so fast that you've got to do the same to keep up with them. The championship is so tough that little things make a big difference at this level.
“Just in terms of straight-line speed, Aprilia are at least 0.2 [seconds] quicker than anything else out there, and that's a big advantage in this sport. A little bit more speed wouldn't go amiss, but the balance and the chassis and the team are second-to-none so it's only little areas that we've got to keep plugging away at.
“I'm looking forward to Silverstone – obviously I'll have a bit of home advantage there – and Germany and Imola I really enjoy as well, so that's three out of the last five that haven't got overly long straights and hopefully we can close that gap back in.”
Of more immediate concern, of course, is this weekend's action in Brno, where Haslam could really do with reining in some of Biaggi's 37-point margin over him before his arch-rival inches too
far away to be caught.
If he remains unconvinced that the Czech Republic circuit will necessarily prove to be the ideal hunting-ground for that purpose – and he was some eight tenths of a second slower and twelve spots further down the timesheets than the MotoGP refugee in Q1 on Friday [see separate story – click here
] – the 27-year-old still insists he is confident in Suzuki's ability to battle back, and more than happy to remain there for the foreseeable future.
“I think Brno is going to be a tough one,” Haslam confessed. “There are three or four big straights, plus Max has won every year he's raced there – but if I can beat him, I'll be feeling pretty confident. Alstare Suzuki has been fantastic and I'm really happy to be able to challenge for the championship in my first year with a full factory team – and I'm just looking forward to each race that comes along.”