Leon Haslam reflects on the future, “doesn’t need to be in …
Leon Haslam has said he will only be on the grid for the 2022 WorldSBK championship if he can get hold of a competition bike, as he has almost confirmed rumors that he will lose his HRC Honda seat for next season.
One of the most experienced Superbike riders, Haslam comes to the end of his second season with the factory-backed Honda team after joining the HRC-prepared team with the launch of the latest generation Honda CBR1000RR -R Fireblade.
After matching his big-budget teammate Alvaro Bautista for pace in 2020, albeit on a bike that didn’t shine for overall performance, he endured a troubled 2021 campaign with a better fourth place finish at Donington Park.
As such, Honda is set to confirm a brand new WorldSBK rider squad in 2022 with MotoGP rider iker Lecuona and Moto2 leader Xavi Vierge set to join them.
Driven by his plans for the future, Haslam – a 2018 BSB champion who has competed with Suzuki, BMW, Kawasaki, Honda and Aprilia factory efforts over the past decade and more – admits he will only stay on the grid. WorldSBK only if he can get a ride that he feels is competitive.
“I’m in no rush,” Haslam told Speedweek. “If I can’t be competitive in the World Cup then I won’t. If there’s an opportunity it’s great. If not, I’ll do something else. I’ve come to a point in my career where I no longer need to be in the Superbike World Championship.
“My dedication to racing and motorcycling is greater than ever, so I want a competitive bike that I can win on. We want to do it one way or another for next year. If the next four races are my last in the Superbike World Championship, so be it. I focus on them. “
Léon Haslam and his options 2022
With Honda now the last remaining factory team to confirm riders for the 2022 WorldSBK season, Haslam’s international options will be limited to satellite offerings.
That’s not necessarily a drop in performance for the Briton, who had some of his best hits on private Stiggy Honda when he entered the world championship in 2009.
Of those available seats, Barni Ducati and Go Eleven Ducati arguably represent his best shot to challenge the front, although Yamaha has yet to occupy the second seat alongside Garrett Gerloff at GRT.
With Honda taking a minor risk with two inexperienced Superbike rookies at Lecuona and Virgo, there has been talk that Haslam could stay on his books with a move to the MIE Racing Honda satellite team, albeit as a relative finalist for the moment, it would probably have to come with the caveat of an increase in investment.
Beyond WorldSBK, Haslam is unlikely to run out of bids to return to the BSB series he dominated in 2018 to win a long-awaited debut national title with JG Speedfit Kawasaki.
Indeed, Haslam would be an ideal choice for Honda Racing after an eventful campaign which saw him win a race with Glenn Irwin, but also circulate at the rear with Japanese rookies Takumi Takahashi and Ryo Mizuno.
He will also likely be Paul Bird’s target for VisionTrack Ducati or McAMS Yamaha depending on his current rivals’ plans for the title, although he may have some competition for the best seats from Tom Sykes.
The 2013 SBK World Champion is currently looking for a ride after being ousted from the BMW factory, although it is understood that he has been offered a deal to join the Bonovo MGM BMW semi-factory team. for the 2022 SBK World Championship.