Smalley-based race ace Leon Haslam scored valuable points in Round Six of the World Superbike Championships at the weekend, but was unable to challenge at the front of the field.
The same story applied to the 30-year-old’s Pata Honda teammate Jonathan Rea in the two races, which took place at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.
The two 16-lap encounters at the fast and flowing 5.548km circuit near Kuala Lumpur were both won by Marco Melandri, with Rea finishing the two races in sixth position as he battled his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP with temperatures in the mid-30s and the track above 50 degrees celcius.
Haslam got a good start to race one but experienced corner entry problems on his way to seventh place.
His second outing was no easier in the Sepang heat and the Smalley-based rider could finish no better than 11th.
He said: “I think we’ve both struggled this weekend, and I’m not sure whether it’s the hot conditions or the low grip levels.
“We made a different plan for this weekend on the chassis and it’s definitely showed up some positives.
“We have a couple of technical issues which set us back a little but in the race it was quite difficult with me and Jonathan riding around for the lesser points positions which is not ideal.
“Hopefully we can learn a lot from this weekend and take that to Misano.”
Teammate Jonathan Rea finished sixth in both races and said: “It’s been a very tough weekend and it’s not where we want to be. But we kind of made some steps forward when it mattered, especially in race two when I was able to carry a much better pace than I have all weekend in the heat.
“But it seems our engine braking system is too sensitive to different conditions and different circuits, which is frustrating because when I had grip at the beginning I had no problem entering the corners but at the end of the race I had a lot of chatter from the rear when the grip went down. But I really enjoyed riding this track. I look forward to the next race at Misano because it’s a circuit that I love.”
Haslam is currently sitting in eighth place in the standings after six rounds of the competition.
Round Seven, at the Misano circuit in Italy, takes place on Sunday, June 22.