Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam say they can come away from the opening round of the 2014 World Superbike Championship feeling 'satisfied' after a solid step forward for both riders at Phillip Island.
Rea in particular had come into the season opener buoyant of a podium challenge, but while his run to fifth and sixth positions was certainly competitive, he otherwise struggled to mingle with the leads in either race.
Nonetheless, while Rea says there is still some work to be done in certain areas, he is content that it still represents a marked improvement over his results from 2013.
“I guess we have to be reasonably satisfied with the result here because we've made a big improvement over last year here at Phillip Island. It's clear which areas we need to work on and it's mostly mechanical grip. In race one, some of the guys struggled with tyre problems because it went the full distance, but I was able to look after my tyre which was a good thing. We still need to make improvements in that area because the guys at the front had no problems.
“Race two was unfortunately stopped early because I think I was probably conserving my tyre a little more than I should have been. Sykes passed me into turn one but kind of stopped up in the corner and I lost a lot of places and lost touch with the group so the last few laps were quite boring.
“I'm quite happy with everyone on my side of the box – we've been making good linear progress. They're not results to jump up and down about but it's a good way to start the season. I'm looking forward to getting back to some more conventional circuits in Europe and to aiming a lot higher than we did here.”
Haslam, meanwhile, endured a more fraught day, retiring from the first race after crashing before going on to finish sixth in race two – his best result since joining PATA Honda.
“I had a big disaster in race one – we had a bit of an electronics issue and then the bike spun from under me at turn 12. We saw what that was and we know the problem in that area but the boys had to work really, really hard to get the bike ready for race two.
“They put a good setting in the bike that allowed me to run consistent times similar to the leaders' but we just had a few niggly issues that stopped me getting up to them. Me and Johnny had a good battle and then the race got red flagged. It was disappointing that we didn't get to have a bit more fun out on the track but fifth and sixth for the team, considering the issues we've had, is not so bad.
“We'll go back and work hard for the next one – we've made some steps forward since Friday but we didn't get back to where we were at the test, which was a little disappointing. We know why though, and we'll get it sorted for next time.”