Former British Superbike Champion Leon Haslam has signed to ride alongside Alvaro Bautista in the factory Honda WorldSBK team, it was confirmed this morning at the EICMA Show in Milan.
Haslam, who was ditched by Kawasaki after only one season, finished seventh this year after a tough season trying to adapt his style to the ZX-10RR’s engine braking strategies.
“I am excited about the possibility of joining the HRC project and the new bike as well. It is a dream come true and I just can’t wait to get out there and get on the bike,” said Haslam.
“From my side, just the thought of HRC coming back into the paddock was intriguing by itself, there was a lot of secrecy about what it was and what the bike was.”
For me, to have the opportunity and to be involved with it is definitely something that I was aiming for. The aim is always to win; Honda and HRC have not come here to finish second, that is for sure.
“Obviously, it is a new bike and a new team to the Championship, so testing is going to be very important. I’m pretty confident we can hit the ground running and Phillip Island is one of my favourite tracks where we kick off in February, so it is not long to wait.”
Haslam has a long history with Honda in MotoGP, WorldSBK and British Superbikes. The Derby rider finished race for the marque in 125GP, 250GP and 500GP between 1998 and 2002 (save for 2000 when he piloted an Italjet).
In 2008 he rode for HM Plant Honda in BSB, finishing in second place before moving to the Stiggy Honda setup in WorldSBK. Haslam then moved away from the brand but was back alongside Jonathan Rea at Ten Kate in 2013 for two seasons, and now he is with them again in the most factory-supported setup since the Colin Edwards era.