Leon Haslam believes he has much to be encouraged about heading into the remainder of the World Superbike weekend at Phillip Island after setting the sixth fastest time in Q1 without a soft tyre.
Ahead of his debut with the Pata Honda team, 2010 WSBK runner-up Haslam has proven to be comfortably faster than team-mate Jonathan Rea at Phillip Island thus far, an upper hand he maintained in Q1 as he ended the day in sixth position.
Choosing not to fit a soft tyre in Q1, Haslam was pleased with his lap time, which he says was 'quite easy and comfortable'. However, he admits a change in weather conditions – particularly the wind – could negate his hard work.
“It felt really good today and we were just concentrating hard on our race set-up. We got a tyre that we did race distance on and the lap times were as good as anybody's so I'm happy with that. A couple of tyres are definitely not the option – they're just blistering and I think a couple of people are suffering with that.
“I think I was only one of a few riders that didn't use the soft tyre this afternoon so I was quite happy with the lap time, which felt quite easy and comfortable, and I'm happy with the progression we're making.
“We'll spend tomorrow working on tyre life and fine-tuning the electronics, which seem to change day-by-day with the weather and the wind. It's getting stronger each day so I hope it doesn't change direction tomorrow – otherwise we'll have to start all over again!”
On the other side of the garage, Rea would adopt a conservative approach to the day after being unnerved by the preceding chaotic World Supersport session.
“I was excited and nervous this morning, starting a new season, but it was quite tough witnessing the Supersport session this morning, which was full of mayhem and five red flags,” he said. “I was a little unsure about the track conditions to start but we worked slowly and surely through some electronics changes but, unfortunately, my comments were a little strange because we were struggling to make progress with my feeling on the bike.
“In the second session this afternoon we did a long run and I picked up a much better rhythm at the end and I felt a lot better on the bike. We still need to do more work with old tyres but we're not so far away on used tyre pace.
“I feel we still need to do some work to get an out-and-out lap time. We've had a long de-brief and I think it's clear that we can still improve the engine braking and the initial touch of the throttle.”