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Haslam excels on Suzuki debut
30 October 2009
Leon Haslam shrugged off his elbow injury to make an impressive first impression on the Suzuki Alstare during World Superbike post-season testing in Portugal.
Haslam, who finished sixth in the 2009 overall standings with the privateer Stiggy Honda team, made his long-awaited debut for the factory Suzuki outfit around the Portuguese circuit, alongside new team-mate Sylvain Guintoli.
Despite riding with stitches on his elbow, the legacy of an accident during the Portimao race weekend, Haslam was immediately on the pace aboard the GSX-R1000 K9, lapping faster than he did just three days ago.
Furthermore, although unofficial results had Haslam down as having set a best time of 1min 42.451secs, Suzuki quote that he actually lapped at 1min 41.980secs – just a tenth slower than pace setter Jonathan Rea.
“I am over the moon in every way and really excited about the future,” said Haslam. “We went through more than I expected and found many good ideas to work with.
“It was a shame that I injured myself last Sunday in the morning warm-up on race day, because it meant that I wasn't 100 per cent here at these tests. I have had internal and external stitches in my left elbow and also damaged some ankle ligaments, but I don't really notice any pain when I am on the bike. At the end of the day, I feel a bit sore, but nothing too bad.
“I am impressed with the bike and the team and think we have established a good relationship very quickly. Everybody has helped me so much, right from day one. Although Sylvain and I have not had much time to discuss the bike together, I know that we both have said more or less the same things and I am sure that we'll work very well together.
“When I got on the bike for the first time, I didn't know exactly what to expect, but I was so happy after the first day because I lapped a second quicker than on raceday last weekend. Of course there is a lot more to learn and it is just a case of getting down to it, making improvements and keeping progressing.
“It's been really good to have his test, so soon after the season has finished, and get right into it straightaway and now I am already looking forward to the next tests.”
Having made his race debut with the team at the weekend, Guintoli returned to action with Suzuki Alstare to get a further understanding of the bike.
“The main purpose of these tests has been to understand the Suzuki Alstare GSX-R1000 K9 bike, get to know the team and also try many different things, including suspensions. We have done a lot of good work during these two days and it's going to be good now to have a bit of a rest, especially as I was racing here for three days at the weekend.
“One thing is for sure, after five days here, I know the track now pretty well! I'm also happy that my leg didn't play up too much and I have to thank the Clinica Mobile for all the massages and looking after me so well.
“This bike is quite different to the Crescent Suzuki I rode in the British Superbike Championship and my first job last Friday was to begin working on this bike and getting comfortable with it. Every time out, my feeling for the bike improves and it's great that we are going forward all the time.
“It has been very interesting today and we've found out a lot about the bike. There are some good points and there some things we need to improve. I'm really looking forward to the next tests because we have lots of ideas to try out and hopefully we will keep on improving.”
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