A successful pre-season testing schedule has seen the ‘Pocket Rocket’ in fine form and heading to one of his favourite tracks, he’s hoping for a strong showing…
Having ridden Ducatis, Suzukis, BMWs, Aprilias and Kawasakis, Leon Haslam (HRC Team) is back with Honda and is spearheading the Japanese manufacturer’s charge to success in World Superbike. The ‘Pocket Rocket’ sprouted up the order to top day one at Jerez before finishing inside the top ten there, whilst it was a top six showing at Portimao that really put Haslam in a good position.
As the oldest rider on the grid, Haslam brings with him a vast amount of experience and versatility and knows what it takes to develop a brand-new motorcycle into a race winning package. Showing no signs of slowing down, the five-time WorldSBK race winner put in a lap that was quicker than he was able to do at Portimao during the round in 2019 on the ZX-10RR Kawasaki, suggesting that even at this early stage, the Honda is capable of top five pace. The future certainly looks bright for Honda and Haslam was beaming with confidence after the conclusion of the Portuguese test.
“We made some good steps today,” began Haslam. “Race tyre times were within one or two tenths, but we didn’t make the step the others made with the Q tyre. All in all, we got through a lot of things, a lot of test items and in the end, the lap time wasn’t too bad either. I’m super excited to go to Phillip Island, one of my favourite circuits and I just can’t wait to get there.”
Continuing, the 36-year-old was eager to get to the future with his Honda: “We have so much to look forward and it isn’t just fine tuning the bike either, we haven’t got to that stage yet! We are trying fundamental parts, fundamental test items and that is what has brought us this close already, so when we fine tune it, I am really looking forward to that stage.”
Haslam has taken two race wins at Phillip Island: one for Suzuki in the closest WorldSBK finish of all time in 2010, and another in a final lap battle with Jonathan Rea in Race 2, 2015. Haslam has also taken six podiums for Honda during his time, although never won. He will be aiming to continue the development of the project at the Phillip Island test in order to put him in the mix come race action across Saturday and Sunday.
“Obviously that is what we are aiming for,” said Haslam, when questioned about whether he was a contender for the win at Phillip Island. The work from now until then is really important, every day from now until then is really important. Phillip Island is my favourite circuit, I can’t wait to get there and hopefully we can get on that top step!”
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