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Silverstone BSB: Haslam 'trying to be patient, out to win them all...'

2018 Bennetts British Superbike Champion Leon Haslam is back for more in 2022 as the season gears up for its Silverstone opener.

Haslam’s return to BSB, together with that of Tom Sykes, is going to add a lot of class and sparkle to one of the most competitive national series in the world. Both have achieved considerable success in the world series, Sykes with one world title and Haslam coming close in 2010.

The 38-year-old ‘junior’ member of the Haslam family - father Ron was one of the most successful British riders in any series and on any circuit - decided after a couple of years in the Honda works team that the FIM Superbike World Championship was no longer for him. Ahead of the opening round at Silverstone this weekend, Haslam talked to bikesportnews.com about the reasons for his decision and his ambition for BSB as part of the VisionTrack-sponsored Lee Hardy Racing Kawasaki squad this time around.


BSN: Leon, some would say that leaving WorldSBK and returning to a domestic equivalent was a bit of a come down, a view I am sure you wouldn’t agree with, but give us the background and reasoning behind the change.

Haslam: World Superbikes is obviously everyone’s ultimate aim but if you’re not getting the bikes and packages and are just there to make the numbers up, well…

The only saving grace was a relatively tough couple of years with the Honda project and Alvaro, who I finished on equal points with, is now leading the world championship with another manufacturer. So it is nice to see that we both struggled for two years on the Honda. Leaving World Superbikes was not what I wanted, but what was available.

I always knew I would be coming back to England at some point. It is super competitive, with lots of good memories and also coming back with Kawasaki and the Lee Hardy team. In fact it was also a long look into the future taking into account my academy team which is with Kawasaki and I know Kawasaki with whom I won the championship in 2018.

We’ve had to do a lot of work because it was all very last minute to put a team and bike together and is still an ongoing process, to be honest, but at the same time I think it will be the most rewarding and best for the future.”

BSN: Coming back to BSB is not easy because, as James Whitham reminded us last week, the circuits are very different and there is a lot of elbows out racing. But he added that you had not been away very long and you have never shied away from getting stuck in.

Haslam: Well, it is my natural style. I came back in 2016 having been away for eight or nine years and as we’ve all grown up on these circuits it’s not that we don’t know them. You’re up against your Tarran’s [Mackenzie] and Jason O’Halloran’s and Josh Brookes’ for almost their whole career on these circuits and you’re learning every year how to approach stuff and getting into the swing of it.

The biggest thing from a rider perspective is the time it takes to get used to the change in electronics and it will be the same for Tom who has been away for some time. When I came back in 2016 it was just getting to know how to ride the bike. Clearly Tom can ride the bike fast and he knows all the tracks from when he was in the championship last. But learning to ride those tracks in that different style with no electronics is the adaptation you have to learn.

BSN: And do you regard Paul Bird’s Ducatis as the toughest competitors you’re going to have?


Haslam: Obviously for me anyone on a Ducati or a Yamaha are the one’s that you look at. I’m not really focusing on whose sat on them and if you look at last year’s results it wouldn’t be Paul Bird’s Ducatis it would be Tommy Bridewell on the Oxford Products bike. It is not specifically the rider or the team I’m looking at, it’s the strength of the Ducati or the Yamaha, and BMW have obviously made a step.

So the difference in BSB is that the circuits you go too are very different from one to another. From tight little twisty ones like Cadwell with jumps and bumps, to vast ones like Silverstone for the opening round or open and fast ones like Thruxton. Every weekend one bike will be performing differently to another which makes the championship difficult, whereas in World Superbikes, although they are different, nothing as extreme as BSB. And with no electronics it does come down to the characteristics of the bike.

BSN: And when you’re coming away from Silverstone on Sunday evening, what would you regard as a performance which made you unhappy?

Haslam: If I don’t win all three races! But I’ve got to be realistic. I’ve only done two days on the bike and the team only met each other a few weeks ago.

A huge effort, 110 per cent is going into this so I’ve got to be patient, see where the others are at and recognise they’re probably going to be in a better position than we are for round one. But as a racer I can’t get it out of my head that the last time I raced here I won all three races.

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