As reported in this weeks MCN, Leon Haslam will race the BMW S1000RR in the 2011 World Superbike Championship. The 27 year old Brit will join the German team to ride alongside Australian veteran Troy Corser.
Haslam has been linked with the deal for months and finally got an official release from Alstare Suzuki squad leading to an official announcement from BMW this morning.
Speaking exclusively to MCN from Magny Cours this evening, Haslam gave a detailed insight into how the deal came about and what he expects to achieve racing for BMW.
He said: “BMW first spoke to me at the second round of the championship in Portimao at the end of March about riding for them. I was leading the championship and everything was working so well with Suzuki so it was kind of ‘thanks for the interest, but no thanks’.
“We spoke again at Silverstone and it was the same again as we were expecting to find out what support we were going to get from Suzuki, but we didn’t get an answer. In Nurburgring I spoke with Francis (Batta – Alstaer Suzuki owner) and he gave me permission to speak to BMW but even then we were still waiting on a decision from Suzuki Japan.
“We thought it would be a matter of days, but it ended up finally getting sorted in Imola. I’d like to thank Francis because he gave me a great bike and a great team and this season has been amazing. I honestly feel that we’ve got the best out of the package we had and we’ve taken the fight to Biaggi all year. He’s also been a real gentleman about letting me go.”
Haslam will get his first test on the S1000RR on Tuesday after this weekends Magny Cours race.
“It’s really exciting. I’ve been to the workshop and spent some time with the team and as a project its got so much potential. BMW are fully committed to WSB so the level of support and backing is phenomenal.
“They’re only just in the top ten with Corser this year, but we’ve taken Suzuki from outside the top ten last year to the front of WSB this year so I’m totally confident we can do it again.”