Leon Haslam feels Aprilia has given up a World Superbike championship title fight after withdrawing its factory effort but says IodaRacing will still have the potential to chase rostrums.
The former Aprilia rider ended 2015 on a high with victory in the final race of the season at Qatar, while team-mate Jordi Torres claimed victory in race one at the last round, but he left Doha with an uncertain future as the Italian manufacturer hadn't decided its path for 2016.
Aprilia eventually informed Haslam it was going to withdraw its factory squad and search for a customer team for 2016, which prompted the British rider into action with a return to British Superbikes with JG Speedfit Kawasaki.
Haslam ended last season with two wins, seven further rostrums and two pole positions on the Aprilia RSV4 RF to finish fourth in the WSBK riders' championship and felt if the team pushed on with development it could have closed the gap to Kawasaki and Ducati.
“The Aprilia bike is still a very, very strong package and all honesty if Aprilia wanted to continue themselves I believe it could have been challenging for top three every weekend as a package,” Haslam told Crash.net
With the release of the 2016 WSBK entry list, Aprilia's presence is maintained after championship organisers Dorna retained two RSV4 RFs on lease which IodaRacing has taken up after switching from MotoGP with rider Alex de Angelis and last year's Superstock 1000 champion Lorenzo Savadori.
Haslam believes without factory support IodaRacing will struggle to replicate the form Aprilia achieved last season but hasn't ruled out the team from fighting for podiums if it can fulfill its total potential.
“What they're doing with Ioda is not a factory effort, they are just giving them the materials and Ioda will run the bikes,” he explained. “I think for them it will be very tough to challenge for the world championship even though the package as it was in Qatar was a winning bike.
“If they get it all together a maximise the package from last year I still think it is capable of podiums but it won't challenge for championships against the likes of Kawasaki and Ducati.”
The IodaRacing-Aprilia tie up means seven manufacturers will continue be represented in 2016, with Yamaha returning to the series at the expense of Suzuki. Aprilia withdrew its factory squad in order to focus attention on its MotoGP comeback.