CAN LEON BE KING OF BSB?

1st

Motorcycle News (UK) - - BSB Preview -

If bike rac­ing is about pedi­gree then Leon Haslam has a mas­sive jump on his 2016 MCE Bri­tish Su­per­bike ri­vals.

The 32-year-old is a mem­ber of a fa­mous bike rac­ing dy­nasty headed by his fa­ther, Ron, a for­mer fac­tory Grand Prix rider and mul­ti­ple Bri­tish cham­pion. Haslam ju­nior has won at World Su­per­bike and Bri­tish Su­per­bike cham­pi­onship level, in­clud­ing fin­ish­ing run­ner-up in the 2010 WSB se­ries. But so far a ma­jor ti­tle has eluded him and he is re­turn­ing to the BSB pad­dock as a mem­ber of the JG Speed­fit Kawasaki squad af­ter a seven-year ab­sence.

Al­though Haslam has rid­den for nu­mer­ous man­u­fac­tur­ers dur­ing his long ca­reer, this is his first time on a Kawasaki. With his JG Speed­fit team-mates, James El­li­son and Peter Hick­man, still strug­gling to come to terms with the 2016 ZX-10R, Haslam ap­pears to have taken to the bike like a duck to wa­ter.

At Carta­gena in March he was third fastest in what was his first se­ri­ous com­par­i­son with his 2016 ri­vals. At the open­ing do­mes­tic test at Sil­ver­stone,

JG SPEED­FIT KAWASAKI

Haslam topped the timesheets with a per­for­mance that is sure to have sparked fear amongst his op­po­nents.

“It seems to all be go­ing to plan, we want to keep push­ing and im­prov­ing but I am leav­ing the test re­ally happy with how the JG Speed­fit Kawasaki team have worked to­gether here,” he said as he de­parted Sil­ver­stone.

“To come to Sil­ver­stone one week be­fore the first race was a big test of where we are at in terms of our sea­son prepa­ra­tions.”

Haslam’s progress is all the more re­mark­able given that he has had to ad­just to a bike with no elec­tronic rider aids for the first time.

“In my whole ca­reer I have been rid­ing with elec­tron­ics, even when I was in BSB it was full elec­tron­ics,” he ex­plains.

“To jump on a bike with no elec­tron­ics, no trac­tion con­trol you have to ride dif­fer­ently and you do have to set the bike up dif­fer­ently. On top of that I am learn­ing a brand new bike.”

Haslam has fo­cused

Best re­sult ground run­ning last year and won the first round. We went to Brands for the sec­ond race, put it on pole and won both races. Mint. There was an­other podium at the next round and then I broke my wrist but when I came back I was fight­ing for wins.”

In spite of the pain he has suf­fered, El­li­son says his in­juries are more of an in­con­ve­nience than a de­mo­ti­va­tor.

“Once I am over an in­jury it doesn’t linger and it doesn’t af­fect how I ap­proach the next race,” he says. “If any­thing it mo­ti­vates me more. To go through all of that is painful and it takes a lot out of my fam­ily and me. I’ve spent the last two sum­mers in hy­per­baric cham­bers. Most peo­ple go on holiday for a break in sum­mer, I’ve been stuck in a lit­tle metal cham­ber, get­ting physio and staring at x-rays. It is hard work and I don’t do that be­cause I get paid to race mo­tor­bikes, I do it be­cause I love rac­ing mo­tor­bikes.”

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Few riders have more po­ten­tial to dis­rupt BSB’S es­tab­lished or­der than the man we used to call ‘Pocket Rocket’

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