Leon Haslam has admitted it was one of 'the most nerve-wracking days' of his career ahead of his competitive return to the MCE British Superbike championship but overcame any anxieties to take pole position for the season opener at Silverstone.
The JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider battled through the tricky conditions, with rain threatening overhead throughout qualifying, to produce the fastest lap of the weekend with a 2m 05.501s for pole on his return to BSB after a seven-year stint in World Superbikes.
Haslam says he was tense heading into the qualifying after the bookies picked him as one of the title favourites - which he backed up by topping the official BSB pre-season test at the Northamptonshire track last week - but he mastered the unfavourable conditions to take his 12th career pole and first since Knockhill in 2008.
“For me it was the most nerve-wracking day of my career as it was all a bit new and getting used to the bike,” Haslam said. “This morning was the first time I'd run in the wet and in Superpole it was the first time we used the Pirelli Zero tyre in a long time since testing.
“I didn't know how the bike would perform with rear grip. It was the same for everyone with the tyre that it was up after three or four laps even though you push on.”
After the wave of relief pole gave Haslam he is already focusing on solid results in the curtain-raising races at Silverstone and has paid credit to his GBmoto Racing-prepared squad for its efforts in pre-season testing turning the new Kawasaki ZX-10R with Showa suspension into a competitive package for the first round.
“It is more of a relief and I'm super happy,” he said. “The team has done an awesome job and it has been a very busy few months for them. I just want to get tomorrow out the way and get on with the season.”