Leon Haslam is looking forward to the second round of the World Superbike Championship in Qatar, despite admitting his inexperience of the Losail circuit could cost him valuable tenths of a second.
With just a second covering twenty riders at one point during the opening round of the season in Australia, prior knowledge of Losail is expected to prove a significant advantage for several riders.
Nonetheless, having starred on his debut for the privateer Stiggy Honda team at Phillip Island, Haslam is on a confidence high at the moment, while he is even relishing the challenge a new circuit will bring.
“In Australia we had two days of testing before the event and we were very well prepared,” he said. “In Qatar it's going to be different. I've never raced at the Losail circuit and the team has no data from testing or previous races.
“But that's why we're here, for the challenges 2009 will bring. We know we have a good team and a good machine so it's up to us all in the team to get the best from the package ahead of Saturday's races.”
Heading to Qatar holding third position in the early standings, Haslam is aware that the smallest factor could mean the difference between being at the front or being firmly in the mid-field.
“We are back to where we were before the season started in terms of recognising that there are 15 factory machines out there, we are a private team so we need to have that in perspective then start to build on that from Thursday morning,” he added.
“If we can quickly adapt the base setting we found in Australia to the Losail circuit then we'll be well under way with an excellent starting point for the three days ahead.
“I don't think we'll be miles away from the front but in the World Superbike Championship this year one tenth of a second can separate four or five places so it's really important to be focused from the first lap of practice to the last lap of the second race.”