British Superbikes: Christmas series part one: Leon Haslam speaks about new HM Plant Honda team

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This is the third in a series of five interviews with British Superbike’s top riders giving their thoughts on their new teams.  

Never before has there been so much movement on the British Superbikes rider market during the off-season as we’ve since this winter.

Even the top five seats in British Superbikes have new riders sitting on them next year.

They’ve all been acquainted with their new teams so what better time to get their thoughts on their moves?

In part three, Leon Haslam gives us his views.

2007: Airwaves Ducati
2008: HM Plant Honda

First impressions of your new team?

“Really good. Cal and I went to the workshop two weeks ago to meet the team and it was really good after my two-week holiday to sit down and talk over next year’s plans.

“I’m working with Chris Pike next year (Jonathan Rea’s crew chief  in 2007 – Editor) and we went through some stuff about the bike, how the team works etc. When I joined GSE racing three years ago, I already knew about the bike because that’s what I’d raced in WSB the year before.

“Going to Honda, in a factory team, is something else. You walk into the workshop and there’s HRC stuff everywhere and it’s a nice feeling seeing that.

“There’s all the trophies in there too and it just gives you a sense of security.  Honda dominated this year and I’m looking forward to riding for them in 2008.”

Most exciting thing about your new team?

“Riding a four-cylinder factory bike! In all my career I’ve never raced one. The other thing is that I’ve never, ever had a bike that has had really good top speed.

“The Honda is renowned for it’s speed so it feels good to know I’m going to be on a quick bike. We’ve got a good test programme lined up.

“It’s all really exciting to know that the team will do whatever it takes to get the bike to suit me. I know we’ve a new bike but it looks really interesting and I’m sure we’re going to have a great package to work with. 

What will you miss most your old team?

“GSE Racing is a fantastic team and after being with them for three years we’ve all become good friends. They all came up to the house for our bonfire party so that was good.

“I’d never been in any team for more than two years before and we had a good relationship, felt comfortable with everything.

“Now it’s a new team and it works in a different way but that’s what make it so fresh and exciting.”

How will British Superbikes shape up without Ryuichi Kiyonari?

“He’s been the guy on the factory HRC bike and he’s the guy who’s won the title for the last two seasons. For me, I want to be in his position, winning as many races as possible, winning the title competition wise I don’t think it makes any difference.

“The field is going to be as strong as ever. There’s the Honda guys, Ducati, not just with Airwaves but also with Buildbase or whatever they will be called.

“Suzuki are going to have more factory support so they will be in there too, there’s guys coming through from supersport, just like there was last year. It’s going to be very competitive.”

Check back tomorrow as speaks to Leon Camier

British Superbikes Christmas special part one: Shane Byrne

British Superbikes Christmas special part two: Cal Crutchlow

Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin