Leon Haslam will race for Stiggy Motorsport in the 2009 World Superbike Championship, it has been announced.
Marking a return to the series for the multiple British Superbike race winner, 25-year-old Haslam was confirmed with Johan Stigefelt's team shortly after announcing he would be leaving HM Plant Honda at the end of the year.
Although he has mostly plied his trade in British Superbikes, Haslam is no stranger to the world stage having competed in a total of 30 races over three seasons. He last raced full-time back in 2004 when he rode the Renegade Ducati, a partnership that yielded a single podium finish at the Oschersleben.
Despite his age, Haslam remains an experienced rider, having competed in all three grand prix classes, World Superbikes and, of course BSB.
While title glory in Britain has evaded him so far, Haslam has still won 16 BSB races in his career, with five of them coming this year during his first season riding the Honda Fireblade. As such, Haslam was delighted to be extending his involvement with the Japanese manufacturer in WSBK.
“To get the opportunity to join the Stiggy Team is excellent news for me,” he said. “The team that Johan is putting together for his move into Superbike World Championship, and the technical package he is preparing, is all very exciting. I'm sure we will be competitive in 2009. I'm looking forward to working with the team and I'm very pleased to be able to continue both my own and my family's association with Honda.”
Haslam will lead a two-bike effort for Stiggy Motorsport, who will graduate from the World Supersport Championship next season.
For manager Stigefelt, this is a natural progression for the team, while Haslam's Superbike experience made him an ideal candidate to get on board.
“I'm really happy to increase our team by entering the Superbikes World Championship and continuing our close relationship with Honda Motor Europe. Next year will be a huge challenge for all of us, but I believe we are ready for it. After four years of knowledge and experience in the Supersport class, we are looking forward to this new adventure. We have high expectations and will work our hardest to achieve our goals.”
“To get Leon on board is great news for us. He has the experience that I need to ensure that the development of our Superbike project runs smoothly. You only have to look at his dominance in recent British Superbike rounds to see his natural ability and desire to win.”
Stiggy Motorsport's second rider will be announced in due course, although it is anticipated that one of their current Supersport riders, Josh Brookes or Robbin Harms, will get the seat. The team will also maintain their Supersport programme into 2009.
Haslam, meanwhile, becomes the fifth British rider to be confirmed to the World Superbike grid in 2009, joining fellow BSB contenders Shane Byrne and Tom Sykes, as well as former rivals Jonathan Rea and Tommy Hill.