Leon Haslam expects this year's World Superbike Championship fight to come down to a head-to-head between Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga, the Stiggy rider branding the American rookie a 'class act'.
Spies has taken the World Superbike Championship by storm in the first two rounds of the series, winning three races to be ten points behind Haga heading to the first of the European rounds in Valencia.
Although the pair are the antithesis of each other in terms of experience, Haslam nonetheless anticipates the title fight to come down to a tight exchange between the Yamaha and Ducati riders.
Comparing the top level of AMA Superbikes to that of the British Superbike Championship having himself scored a podium on his debut with his privateer Honda team in Australia, Haslam thinks Spies' achievements have made his own participation in the world series all the more enjoyable.
“Ben is a class act, there is no doubt about that,” he told Crash.net
. “I have always thought that the top of AMA and the top of BSB is tough. Shakey proved in Portugal that he has the pace, plus with me on the podium in Australia, it shows how strong the competition is.
“Yamaha have a fantastic package this year and have a lot of experience, as have Ducati and Suzuki, but for Ben to then come in at circuits he doesn't know on a new bike, he is doing a fantastic job.
“He is on fire and it is going to be an exciting season between him and Haga, but everyone is so close too – this makes it all the more exciting for me to be out battling with those guys!
With European rounds now approaching, Haslam says he is settling back into the 'professional' surroundings of the World Superbike paddock, even if he looking forward to taking his creature comforts with him to Spain.
“The World Superbike paddock has always been fantastic,” he added. “It is such a high class of riders and everything is really professional. But I am looking forward to Europe where I can get to use my own motorhome and have my own base”
Haslam is currently fifth in the World Superbike standings after managing a pair of 11th place finishes in Qatar.