Leon Haslam has sent a warning signal out to his World Superbike Championship counterparts by going second quickest in qualifying at Donington Park, but stating he feels more comfortable on race rubber/
The local rider has been in fine form throughout the weekend, though his hopes of qualifying well looked set to receive a set-back during the early stages of Superpole when a technical issue forced him to use a qualifying tyre just to reach SP2.
Forced onto the race tyre in SP2, Haslam not only went fastest on the firmer rubber but was also the first rider of the day to crack Carlos Checa's lap record from last season.
Reverting back to the qualifying tyre for the shootout, Haslam was the only rider to run eventual pole sitter Tom Sykes close, despite it causing issues with the BMW's set-up.
“I am really happy to be on the front row at my home race! A big thank you to my team. In Superpole 1, we had a small issue with the bike. After fixing that, we put on a qualifying tyre.
“Then in Superpole 2, I clocked a new best lap on race tyres and was on P1. In Superpole 3, we decided to use the qualifying tyre right at the end, but Tom was quicker. He keeps going and getting his pole positions!
With this in mind, Haslam is feeling optimistic that he can turn in BMW's first-ever WSBK race win on home soil, even if he is aware there will be stiff opposition, not least from his own team-mate Marco Melandri, who starts next to him in third.
“In general, the race tyres were working really well, but we were struggling a bit with the qualifying tyres. The times are very close and I think it is going to be an exciting race. There are a lot of riders who can be fast and for sure racing is always close at Donington.
“We have been working quite hard on race set-up and are pretty consistent. Now we have to see what the weather does but at the moment I'm pretty happy. ”