Interview with Leon Haslam

Suzuki stopped the bike's development so every result we got that year was a massive bonus. We got 14 podiums that year and we did everything we needed to do. For me it was almost a flawless season, to beat the factory Yamahas and riders like Cal Crutchlow was a great overachievement.

Suzuki were pulling out though. The year I was with Suzuki, the factory support had already been stopped and my contract was with Suzuki. I wanted to go to a bigger more ambitious team, someone with plans for the future. That was one of the main reasons I went to BMW. Suzuki were honest to me about their plans in WSBK and understood my reasons for moving, the split was amicable.
Which year for you stands out as your favourite in your career?

Leon Haslam:
The whole year at Suzuki stands out because of the great results gained on a virtually privateer team against factory teams like Aprilia and Yamaha. Even when we didn't get the results, the way the team was run meant that we could roll with it more.

That's part of the reason I wanted to move to Ten Kate/Pata Honda because of the more old school family atmosphere of everybody working together, which I have definitely missed.
Is there any similarity between the Stiggy Honda you rode and the Pata Honda you are riding now?

Leon Haslam:
Well, it's the same bike all the way back to 2008. Though the one at Ten Kate is far more developed. The engine is stronger now, it's got a new swingarm, but probably the main difference is the new electronics. It's got the same feel as the Stiggy though.
Take us through your two years at BMW…

Leon Haslam:
I signed with 'Mr BMW' and the facilities and money for development were never an issue. In the first year alone we did 42 days of testing, but even with that, the bike and where they were was just too far away.

The first year was very hard and frustrating. It took such a lot to get them to listen, it wasn't that they weren't listening before, it was just that they didn't have any bike experience. They had some of the cleverest people I know in the various fields, but they didn't have any bike experience or knowledge.

The biggest thing that happened in the second year was that Bernhard Gobmeier got more of a hold of things and got Marco [Melandri] on board. Marco bought his crew and therefore the bike information that BMW was missing with him. For me that was the step forward in bike knowledge that the team needed.

My problems in that year were firstly that I broke my leg before the first race and that was just the first in a series of injuries which destroyed my confidence and secondly the information that came with Marco was controlled from Marco's side of the garage. There was a big divide in the team which worked against me.

It was a big disappointment to me because I felt I got the best out of the Stiggy Honda and Suzuki, but never felt like I got to the full potential out of the BMW.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Haslam, Aragon WSBK 2013
Haslam, Aragon WSBK Race 1 2013
Jonathan Rea, Race2, Assen WSBK 2017
Jonathan Rea, Race2, Assen WSBK 2017
Mahias, Sofuoglu and Cluzel, WSS Race, Assen 2017
Cluzel, WSS Race, Assen 2017
Cluzel, WSS Race, Assen 2017
Cluzel, WSS Race, Assen 2017
Sofuoglu, WSS Race, Assen 2017
Mahias, WSS Race, Assen 2017
Cluzel, WSS Race, Assen 2017
Cluzel, WSS Race, Assen 2017
Sofuoglu, WSS Race, Assen 2017
Mahias, WSS Race, Assen 2017
Jacobsen, WSS Race, Assen 2017
West, WSS Race, Assen 2017
Stapleford, WSS Race, Assen 2017
Kyle Ryde, WSS Race, Assen 2017

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Einar - Unregistered

May 09, 2013 1:53 PM

I love this interviews. Real questions and real unusually honest answers from the riders. In this day and age usually the interviews are so superficial because everything rotates around money and keeping the team and the sponsors happy. So you usually never get the honesty. Keep up the good work Crash, but please take the Crash TV link of autoplay. When I was riding this interview I had to push the stop botton everytime I got to a new pace.

RaceFan - Unregistered

May 09, 2013 9:07 AM

You have to admire how tough and dedicated he is to his racing. As James Whitham often says, these guys will be racing quicker than most people will walk, after a break. Where the bike is concerned, even with LH and JR on the Honda, it's simply not fast enough for them to win races and needs a faster motor. They have both won races before, so come on Honda, give them more bhp! It's not fun watching riders of this calibre making up lost ground on the brakes, just to stay in touch!

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