Deal with Kawasaki UK places Haslam along­side Mossey in Bournemouth Kawasaki squad

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - By Oli Rushby BSB RE­PORTER

For 2017 Leon Haslam will join the Bournemouth Kawasaki team af­ter sign­ing a deal with Kawasaki UK to re­main in the MCE Bri­tish Su­per­bike Cham­pi­onship.

De­spite com­ing close to beat­ing Shane Byrne to the ti­tle this year, Haslam was left in a tricky sit­u­a­tion as his JG Speed­fit Gb­moto Kawasaki team opted to pull the plug on their Bri­tish Su­per­bike ef­fort at the end of the 2016 sea­son.

Keen to keep Haslam on a ZX-10R af­ter a strong year, Kawasaki UK put to­gether a deal for him to sign di­rectly with them and be placed in a team of their choice, which MCN can now con­firm is Pete Ex­tance’s Bournemouth Kawasaki squad.

“With Mark [Smith-halvorsen] and Gb­moto pulling out, I didn’t ac­tu­ally have an op­tion to stay with Kawasaki as the end of the sea­son ap­proached,” Haslam ex­plained. “How­ever, Kawasaki UK de­cided to step in and of­fer me a con­tract, even though at that point they didn’t have a team to put me in!

“For them to have that much faith in me and want me on a Kawasaki that much for 2017 is hum­bling. Since the orig­i­nal deal was signed, we’ve now reached an agree­ment to ride with the Bournemouth team.”

Af­ter com­ing so close to the ti­tle this year, Haslam told MCN back in Septem­ber that stay­ing with Kawasaki was his main ob­jec­tive for 2017 as he felt they’d only just scratched the sur­face of the ZX-10R’S po­ten­tial in BSB.

“Stay­ing on the same bike was key for me af­ter this year. It’s been a big one! Com­ing back to BSB was a mas­sive learn­ing curve, I’ve had to learn a lot of tracks again and get used to a bike with­out elec­tron­ics.

“In 2017, I can go into the sea­son know­ing what to ex­pect from the bike, get the ben­e­fits from a full win­ter test­ing pro­gramme and also have a struc­ture I want around me – this year was tough, with a three rider team. 2016 was good for us, but I’ve said all along that there’s a lot more to come.”

Mov­ing from the all-singing, all­danc­ing Gb­moto team to the both qui­eter and smaller Bournemouth out­fit isn’t some­thing that fazes Haslam, who has had mul­ti­ple sit-down meet­ings with team boss Pete Ex­tance.

Haslam said: “Pete’s re­ally en­thu­si­as­tic about it all, which is some­thing I like. They started off small and have just built up and up and up, so they’re re­ally ex­cited about this next step. When you’ve got a team boss who is like that it rubs off and boosts ev­ery­one else in the team. You need that pas­sion and ex­cite­ment to suc­ceed.”

Kawasaki UK’S rac­ing co­or­di­na­tor Ross Bur­ridge said: “We came close to los­ing Leon to an­other man­u­fac­turer as, with the with­drawal of Gb­moto, there wasn’t re­ally a Kawasaki op­tion for him, so we de­cided the best thing we could do was to sign him up to be em­ployed by Kawasaki.

“This year, he was the only rider to take it to Shakey and I think if it hadn’t been his first year back in BSB he could have been even closer or even won it. Nine race wins is an awe­some job and it shows what he’s ca­pa­ble of.

“Bournemouth are a great team. For a small, family-run team they do a fan­tas­tic job year in year out. They are al­ways there, they’ve had rid­ers in the Show­down twice in the last three years and do a great job on the roads with James Hil­lier, too.”

Kawasaki were so keen to keep Haslam on a ZX-10R, they signed him up di­rectly

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