Leon Haslam could be on his way to the World Superbike Championship in 2009, according to the only full-time British rider on this year's grid, Chris Walker.
In an interview with the official World Superbike website, Walker hails the arrival of new British talent, namely Tom Sykes, who will step up to the series with the Yamaha Italia team next season, while Cal Crutchlow was yesterday confirmed with Yamaha's World Supersport outfit too.
However, at the same time he appears to let slip that multiple British Superbike race winner Haslam will graduate to World Superbikes riding with the Stiggy Motorsport team that currently competes in Supersports.
“Next year we're definitely going to have Tom here and it looks like we are going to have Leon here on the Stiggy Honda, which is fantastic news,” he reveals. “He will be desperate to stay with Honda and they'll look after him.
“Stiggy's team have come on leaps and bounds recently, because Josh Brookes on the bike has shown how competitive they are and now they are going to run one Superbike or two.”
Haslam's desire to step up to World Superbikes has been well documented but it initially seemed likely that he would be doing it with HM Plant Honda, before they committed to the British Championship.
Should Haslam, as well as Shane Byrne, move on - as they are rumoured to be doing - it will mean the top four riders in the British Championship leaving
Nonetheless, Walker, who has been riding for the Paul Bird Motorsport team since Brands Hatch, is eager to return to the series in 2009, joking that the exodus of riders gives him a good shot at a top line seat.
“There will be a huge influx of Brits, which will be great for the championship. Hopefully it will leave a seat back in England for me! Of course, I would love to ride in World Superbikes if I can get a competitive ride, but the chances of me getting on a really good bike and with a really good team is back in the British Championship.
“I would like to get back to BSB and win a title while I still have some hair!”