Leon Haslam will join the Bournemouth Kawasaki team for 2017 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 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 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.
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“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.”
Speaking of the deal, 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.
“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.”
See Haslam's Bournemouth Kawasaki unveiled live on the Kawasaki stand at Motorcycle Live on 19 November.
To read more on Haslam's deal, pick up today's MCN.
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