EWC: Haslam confident in Suzuka chance

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Leon Haslam says he’s going into this year’s Suzuka 8 Hour race more confident than he has in years, as the two-time Suzuka winner links up with reigning World Superbike champion and 2019 WSB teammate Jonathan Rea to try to go one better than last year.

Completing most of last year’s race alone for the Team Green Kawasaki outfit after showing to be much faster than his Japanese teammates in testing, he told MCN that he’s hoping that the addition of Rea and some small improvements to the bike should make all the difference as both of the former winners set out to add another victory to their record books.

“I’ve been over four times now for testing, with Jonathan joining us last time and both of us running at a very good pace. I feel like for the last few years, when we’ve finished second to the Yamaha, we’ve always needed to find something a bit more, and I feel that this year’s package with the bike is a lot stronger. Being partnered up with Jonathan should also give us a really good chance to get on the top step too. I’m really positive about this year’s race and I can’t wait to get going!”

And speaking after three days of testing last month, teammate Rea – who will also join the Brit as his teammate in World Superbikes next year – says that the feeling with the bike means that the former winner is also positive.

“The test is really positive – as this was my first test with Team Green Japan it was important to see the bike set up that Leon and Kazuma were working on.  A really good sign is that I jumped on and with only a few tweaks l was up to speed. I basically worked on re-learning the track – it’s been four years since I’ve been here.

“Also I am learning about the Ninja ZX-10RR Suzuka endurance spec machine. I’ve ridden six of the last seven days, so it’s still fun but also hard work. The bike is working in a good window and we are competitive in all temperatures.

“The bike is very agile and good in traffic. At the final part of day three we did a race simulation and we had a lot of positive input. To be honest, all three of us in the team have been fast so that’s a good sign. All members of the team have been welcoming and I am looking forward to coming back for the race and doing the best we can.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer