Leon Haslam reignited his world championship aspirations this weekend by making a welcome return to the World Superbike podium in a stunning ride for the Puccetti Kawasaki team.
Making a one-off appearance for the Italian team with whom he tested at Portimao earlier this year, Haslam was on the pace throughout the weekend and despite a crash in qualifying leaving him eighth on the grid for race one, he’d fight through to sit in a strong third place before benefitting from the crashes of Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea to eventually finish the race second.
With the days of fast local wildcards mixing it with the big boys in WSB now long gone, Haslam’s performance created a buzz from the off. While the last official wildcard podium was only back in 2015, that was double World Champion and four-time GP champion Max Biaggi on a full factory Aprilia. A British wildcard hasn’t finished on the WSB rostrum since Haslam himself placed third in the second race at Portimao in 2008 when wildcarding with his HM Plant Honda BSB team.
“It’s a dream come true, really,” said Haslam, who was knocked out of the second race in a big battle for the rostrum positions in the early stages. “It’s been a steep learning curve but I can’t not be happy. I thought on a perfect weekend I could maybe beat the Ducatis to take third, but I knew we’d struggle to beat Jonny and Tom.”
Haslam’s performance is sure to do no harm for his chances of securing a return to the World Superbike scene full-time in 2018, and MCN can confirm Manuel Puccetti is already pushing for the 33-year old’s signature.
“Nothing has been sorted or even discussed in depth, my concentration right now is to win BSB. Yes, we’ve had several meetings on what Puccetti’s plans are and what he wants to do. It all comes down to budget and support and putting it all down together.”
Puccetti is making no secret of his desire to sign Haslam, with the Italian hoping to reach a deal this month. “My goal is to try and find a deal in June with Leon that will see us stay together next year," he said. "My dream is to find that deal next month for 2018, and if we can find that he will ride the last one or two rounds for us this year, to start next year early.”
Looking for the perfect two-wheeled companion? Visit MCN Bikes For Sale website or use MCN's Bikes For Sale App.