Leon Haslam believes BMW are in a good position to challenge predicted Monza favourites Aprilia after inching closer to its first World Superbike Championship victory at Assen.
Haslam, team-mate Marco Melandri and BMW satellite rider Ayrton Badovini each enjoyed stints in the lead of a weather-affected first race at Assen, but mistakes prevented any of them from turning it into BMW's long-awaited first victory at WSBK level.
Nonetheless, Haslam has renewed hopes ahead of Monza, one of the more unique circuits on the calendar courtesy of its predominantly high-speed, long straights layout.
With this in mind, Haslam expects the Aprilia RSV-4, which is traditionally quickest through the speed traps, to be the bike to chase in Italy, though having taken a podium at last year's race on the S1000RR, the Briton is confident that he can get on terms with the Italian machine.
“Monza is a track I like,” Haslam says. “I got made it onto the podium there last year. It would have been a double podium if I had not been taken out in the first corner in race two, when another rider crashed and my bike was hit, causing me to fall too.
“On this circuit you have a lot of heavy braking and you need to get the bike balanced as you brake. You mostly have chicanes leading onto the long straights, so you need your bike to accelerate well out of these chicanes. Obviously Aprilia is going to be the bike to beat there, but our RR is fast and strong. I am hoping for a good race and to challenge for the win again.”
“We are making big, big steps,” the 2010 runner-up goes on to reflect. “In Imola we had a double podium and, had things gone a little bit differently, we could have challenged Carlos Checa for the win. In Assen we definitely had the chance to win in both races – if we had chosen the right tyre and I had not crashed. These are a lot of 'ifs', but at least we now can say 'if' when we are talking about victories.”