Leon Haslam is confident he can cling onto his early advantage in the World Superbike Championship as the series heads back to Europe for the second round in Portugal.
The Suzuki Alstare rider stole the headlines during the Phillip Island opener to achieve a maiden pole position, a first career victory and a second place finish, results that have enabled him to establish a nine point advantage in the standings.
Looking ahead to Portimao, the Portuguese circuit is a happy hunting ground for Haslam, the Briton proving a pace setter during pre-season testing there. It is success he thinks he can translate over the race weekend.
“In every area possible, Portugal offers a completely different challenge to Phillip Island," said Haslam. "The Championship is now under way and there are riders looking to improve on the previous round. Also, the Portimao circuit offers completely different technical challenges to Phillip Island and we're back in Europe with a run of four rounds in six weeks so it's already a crucial stage of the season.
"I'm happy to take the knowledge we have of the Portimao circuit from our two tests there and do my best to at least repeat my success in Australia. We know we can be strong in Portugal, like we knew in Australia, but the plan still needs to be put in motion come race day.
"I think that we've taken a few people by surprise with our pace in Australia but it's up to myself and the Alstare Suzuki Team now to continue that type of performance in Portugal and beyond."
With the series returning to Europe following a month's break between rounds, Haslam is confident he can maintain his advantage over the coming events at Valencia, Assen and Monza too.
"We've tested at Portimao and Valencia, Assen is a circuit I feel really at home on and the Monza round is all about top speed so I'm really excited about the next few weeks," Haslam added.