Early-season 2010 World Superbike Championship pace-setter Leon Haslam is confident of being able to 'give the twins more than a run for their money' in Valencia this weekend – and in so doing maintain his advantage in the title chase.
Haslam currently holds a 16-point lead in the riders' standings off the back of four consecutive rostrum finishes – victory in the Phillip Island curtain-raiser and three subsequent second places – in the opening two rounds for Alstare Suzuki.
Having shone during testing around the Circuit Ricardo Tormo late last year, the former British Superbike Championship runner-up is optimistic of being able to keep that run going around a track that – by dint of its compact and technical nature and series of second and third-gear corners – has traditionally favoured twins, with Noriyuki Haga having comfortably triumphed in both races there last year for Ducati.
“I really like the track and I think I showed that when we tested here in December,” underlined the 26-year-old. “It's a very technical track and it's important to get a good set-up as early in the weekend as possible and then have a good qualifying.
“The twins have gone well here before, but I'm sure we can give them more than a run for their money this weekend. It's going to be another hard-fought weekend, but I'm confident that we're going to be very competitive and will be going all out to make sure I finish the weekend still at the top of the standings.”
Team-mate Sylvain Guintoli, for his part, is aiming to bounce back from a disappointing time in Portugal – when he lapped well off Haslam's pace and took a best finish of just ninth, taking the chequered flag more than half a minute adrift of the sister GSX-R1000 in race one – by reproducing the kind of form he displayed Down Under.
“Like Leon, I also like the track and, over the years, I've done well here, though this will be my first time racing it on a Superbike,” reported the Frenchman. “It's a technical circuit and a bit like a big go-kart track, and you spend a lot of time trying to keep the front wheel down.
“After Portimão, I sat down and thought a lot about what happened during the weekend and tried to work out what had gone wrong and why. I realised that actually I was not that far off, but this championship is so competitive that even if you are just a little bit off, you suffer a lot. It's so important to do well in practice, do well in qualifying, be on the first two rows of the grid and then put everything together in the races. If you don't, it becomes a big battle just to get into any sort of contention.
“I think Valencia and the next race in Assen should be good for us, and I am looking forward to both tracks and getting back to the kind of form I showed in Australia.”