WorldSBK

Is Honda Leon Haslam’s best-ever chance to secure WorldSBK title?

Seventeen years after starting his first WorldSBK race, Leon Haslam believes Honda represents his best-ever chance to secure an elusive title

Leon Haslam feels his move to the Team HRC Honda outfit represents his best chance to secure an elusive WorldSBK Championship title, saying it was a ‘no-brainer’ to join the Japanese firm over the winter.

One of the most experienced riders on the WorldSBK grid having now started 257 races in the series – accumulating five wins and 45 podiums in that time – Haslam is also one of the most versatile having skipped between Honda, Suzuki, Aprilia and Kawasaki machinery in that time.

His most recent endeavour though takes him back to Honda, with whom has previously raced twice during his WorldSBK career. However, while his first two outings were with the privateer Stiggy and semi-works Ten Kate/Pata outfits, this latest deal sees him join Alvaro Bautista in Honda’s revived full factory outfit under the HRC umbrella.

Riding the brand-new Honda CBR1000RR-R, Haslam showed eye-catching speed on the bike’s debut in Australia with a front row start and a top five race finish, Honda’s first in almost two years.

Indeed, Haslam believes in the project and is convinced that with some more development the bike will be winning races before long.

“I know we can win with this bike and with this team, so I need to take it step by step, it won’t happen overnight but at the same time with this backing behind you, it does give you that fire,” he told the official WorldSBK website.

A rider that made his first WorldSBK start way back in 2003, despite Haslam’s longevity in the series he remains a relatively modest 36-years old when compared to the likes of champions Troy Bayliss, Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi who were all older when they won titles.

With this in mind, Haslam believes that with the might of HRC behind him his chances of winning a WorldSBK title are better than ever.

“If HRC is offering you a deal, it’s a bit of a no-brainer. I didn’t need to ask too much about the bike, too much about what mechanics I’ll be getting. It is another level, all the expertise all these people working on the project, it fills you with confidence and that’s enough.

“I have absolutely no complaints, I feel throughout my career I have been in some fantastic teams, competed with some fantastic manufacturers. My life has been bikes, age for me is just a number, I hope I would be trying to win world championships for the next give years. 

“I look at the likes of Bayliss, Biaggi, Checa becoming world champions in their forties, and I still have five years to get to that age. 

“For me, this is my best ever opportunity, I have to keep restraining myself, I want it to happen right now but I am confident in Honda, confident in HRC and hopefully time will tell and we can achieve that.”

Haslam came closest to the WorldSBK title in 2010 when he finished runner-up to Biaggi when competing with the Alstare Suzuki team.
 

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