Young British hopeful Leon Haslam will forsake his grand prix dreams to link up with the Renegade Ducati team's brand new British Supersport squad for 2003.

Having stepped back from a disappointing debut season in the 500cc class, Haslam endured a difficult year in the 250cc series in 2002, but was still rumoured to be on a number of teams' shopping list for the coming campaign. Although dismayed at having to give up, however temporarily, on his international aspirations, the son of 'Rocket Ron' Haslam admitted that he was looking forward to rekindling his career on home soil.

"It's been a disappointing year for me in GP and I need to start getting some results," he told ducati.com "Although the British Championship is highly competitive, I am pretty sure that I can run at the front, particularly riding a factory Ducati, which I consider to be a privilege. To join a team of Renegade's calibre is an opportunity I didn't want to miss and I can't wait to get on the bike."

The British Supersport Championship, recently upgraded to national status, is expected to attract a strong rider line-up for 2003 as the British Superbike series goes from strength to strength.

Having taken the British Superbike series by storm in its debut campaign - racking up 24 podiums and eleven wins with Michael Rutter and Shane Byrne - the Renegade operation has decided to branch out into the Supersport arena to provide future riders for its top flight squad.

"I'm really pleased to have Leon join the team," owner Mark Griffiths admitted, "It's been a very difficult choice, as a large number of riders approached us, but I wanted a young rider with the right background who we could spend some time developing alongside Michael and Sean [Emmett].

"Leon fits the bill perfectly, and I have made it clear that I don't have any big expectations of him for the season. I just want him to get used to a Ducati and to regain his confidence and motivation. He'll get every assistance from us all in achieving that."

The team's bikes will arrive in December, ahead of a rigorous pre-season testing programme in January.

 

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