Leon Haslam and Jonathan Rea started 2013 as they mean to go on, finishing the first qualifying practice in the top ten.
|Haslam finished sixth in the first qualifying practice of 2013
Photo: Pata Honda
Haslam, who is in his fifth year of World Superbikes has moved from the BMW factory team to Pata Honda for the 2013 season. Leon finished the official test in second position in the beginning of the week and is beginning to feel ‘easy and comfortable’ aboard his Honda CBR1000RR
The 29 year old finished sixth in todays opening qualifying session, just 0.6 behind Fabrizio in first, securing a time of 1.31.687.
Leon said “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!
Teammate and fellow Brit Jonathan Rea also had a positive afternoon at the legendary Australian circuit. After finishing the official World Superbike test in sixth this week, Rea is slowly building up his pace.
|Rea struggled with tyres in the opening qualifying session
Photo: Pata Honda
However tyres seem to be hampering the 26 year old, as he made slow progress in todays qualifying session. By the afternoon’s session he had found a steady pace, and ‘felt a lot better on the bike’ but still has work to do ahead of the race on Sunday. Rea’s time wasn’t far off top man Fabrizio however; putting in a lap of 1.31.884, just 0.5 off.
Rea said of his tenth place “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. 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.”