Reigning World Superbike Championship runner-up Leon Haslam has acknowledged that in order to fully prove himself in the series, he needs to clinch the title – and following his switch from Alstare Suzuki to the factory BMW outfit in 2011, he reckons he could be in the perfect place to do just that.
Over the first half of 2010, Haslam was the
man in WSBK, until Suzuki's lack of development led to the popular British star being first caught and then overhauled by Aprilia rival Max Biaggi, leaving him the bridesmaid come season's end. That means that next year, he will have to try all over again – but he is confident his fourth full campaign in the championship has the potential to be his most successful yet.
“I need to win,” the 27-year-old told Crash.net Radio
. “I need to win a championship; I need to win as many races as I can. I wanted to do that this year, but if I can get the most out of this BMW, I'm pretty confident we can achieve it.”
Testing has got off to an encouraging start, with Haslam lauding the untapped 'potential' of the S1000RR in comparison with the Suzuki GSX-R1000 he rode in 2010 [see separate story – click here
] – but he concedes that he will be up against no shortage of fiercely-determined rivals similarly eager to prevail, with the competition in World Superbikes remaining as tough and close as it has ever been.
“The championship is just getting stronger and stronger,” he affirmed. “For sure, Max is going to be super-quick on that Aprilia – it was the bike to beat all year, as well as himself – and Leon Camier alongside him is going to be in his second year now rather than in his maiden year.
“Then you've got Jonny Rea, and your new guys like Eugene Laverty and Marco Melandri, who are all on proven bikes and are proven riders themselves and are definitely going to be winning races. It's hard to really say yet; I could pretty much name probably ten riders that are all going to be competitive, exactly the same as this year. We've got to wait and see in Australia.”