Leon Haslam ponders future, ‘doesn’t have to be in WorldSBK in 2022’

Leon Haslam says he will only take on a satellite ride for 2022 WorldSBK if it is competitive, hints at potential return to BSB series he dominated in 2018

Leon Haslam - Honda Racing HRC

Leon Haslam says he will only feature on the 2022 WorldSBK Championship grid if he can source a competitive bike as he all-but-confirmed paddock rumours he will lose his HRC Honda seat for next season.

One of Superbikes’ most experienced racers, Haslam is coming towards the end of his second season with the factory-backed Honda team after joining the HRC-prepared squad with the launch of the latest generation Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade.

After matching big-money team-mate Alvaro Bautista for pace in 2020, albeit on a bike that didn’t sparkle for performance generally, he has endured a troubled 2021 campaign with a best finish of fourth place at Donington Park.

As such, Honda is set to confirm an all-new WorldSBK rider line-up in 2022 with MotoGP rider iker Lecuona and Moto2 front runner Xavi Vierge poised to join.

Pushed on his plans for the future, Haslam - a 2018 BSB Champion who has competed with Suzuki, BMW, Kawasaki, Honda and Aprilia factory efforts over the past decade-plus - admits he will only remain on the WorldSBK grid if he can secure a ride he feels is competitive. 

“I'm in no hurry,” Haslam told Speedweek.. “If I can't be competitive in the World Cup, then I won't. If there is an opportunity, that's great. If not, I'll do something else. I've come to a point in my career where I don't have to be in the Superbike World Championship anymore. 

“My dedication to racing and motorcycles is as great as ever, so I want a competitive bike that I can win on. We want to do that in some way for next year. If the four upcoming events are my last in the Superbike World Championship, then so be it. My focus is on them."

Leon Haslam and his 2022 options

With Honda now the last remaining factory team to confirm its riders for the 2022 WorldSBK season, Haslam’s international options will be limited to satellite offers.

That isn’t necessarily a step down in performance for the Briton, who enjoyed some of his best successes on the privateer Stiggy Honda when he made the move into the world championship in 2009.

Of those seats available, arguably Barni Ducati and Go Eleven Ducati represent his best shot at challenging towards the front, though Yamaha hasn’t filled the second seat alongside Garrett Gerloff at GRT as yet either.

With Honda taking a minor risk with two unseasoned Superbike rookies in Lecuona and Vierge, there has been talk Haslam could remain on its books with a shift to the satellite MIE Racing Honda team, though as a relative tail-ender at the moment it would likely need to come with the caveat of a boost in investment.

Beyond WorldSBK, of course Haslam is unlikely to be short of offers to revert back to the BSB series he dominated in 2018 to take a long-awaited maiden domestic title with JG Speedfit Kawasaki.

Indeed, Haslam would be an ideal choice for Honda Racing following a troubled campaign that has seen it win one race with Glenn Irwin, but also circulate at the back with Japanese rookies Takumi Takahashi and Ryo Mizuno.

He’ll also likely be a target of Paul Bird for VisionTrack Ducati or McAMS Yamaha depending on the plans of its current title-battling rivals, though he might have some competition for top seats from Tom Sykes. 

The 2013 WorldSBK Champion is currently hunting for a ride after being ousted from the BMW factory set up, though it is understood he has been offered a deal to join the semi-works Bonovo MGM BMW team for the 2022 WorldSBK Championship.

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