Haslam, Stiggy to split at end of '09.

Leon Haslam will leave the Stiggy Honda team at the end of the 2009 World Superbike Championship.

Stiggy stepped up to WSBK this season, when Haslam made a return to the class for the first time since 2004 after several seasons fighting for the BSB crown.

Questions marks were raised about Haslam's choice of team, but the partnership proved an instant success a podium finish in race two of the Phillip Island season opener, then three further rostrums at Assen (round four) and Donington Park (round nine).

Haslam held third in the championship - behind only Noriyuki Haga and Ben Spies - after Assen, and he remained the leading Honda rider until round seven at Salt Lake City.

The Englishman will start the Portimao season finale - his last event for Stiggy - holding a safe sixth in the championship, with an outside chance of retaking the top Honda spot from Ten Kate's Jonathan Rea (38 points ahead).

But despite the on-track success of the Haslam/Stiggy project, the team has been dogged by persistent financial problems, which led to the Stiggy operation being forced to end its relationship with financial backers S2 Racing.

As a result, team owner Johan Stigefelt and Haslam have decided to part company and pursue their own options for 2010.

“After the S2 Racing financial issues and complications it was clear that we had to address the future alone,” commented Stigefelt. “Our plans involved Leon but we are not fully in a position to commit for 2010 at this stage therefore its better for Leon to pursue his career elsewhere.

“Overall, with Leon, it has been a great year. We didn't know each other too well at the start but the experience has been thoroughly enjoyable and I hope we can work together again one day,” he added.

“I think it's fair to say that we started the year as complete underdogs and outsiders but I knew we had the potential with Johan's team when I saw the guys he'd brought in for me,” said Haslam.

“My crew and the rest of the guys have done an excellent job and the results confirm their ability as a team. I want to thank Stiggy for this opportunity, for believing in me and getting me back in the top level of racing again. I hope Stiggy manages to regroup quickly as the team is still young and clearly has huge potential.”

After such a strong season, Haslam looks set for an official factory-backed ride in 2010, most probably with Suzuki.

Stiggy, which had been linked to a switch to Yamaha, hopes to announce its 2010 WSBK plans 'shortly'.

Tagged as: Honda , Stiggy , Leon Haslam

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