Leon Haslam has set himself the target of being Britain's leading representative in this year's World Superbike Championship, a goal that he believes should see him challenging for a top five finish overall.

After a season of having no full-time rider flying the British flag, Haslam is one of five entrants in this year's series who are determined to recapture the success of 2007 winner James Toseland.

Joining Stiggy Honda, who graduate from the World Supersport Championship for the first time this year, Haslam has set some lofty ambitions for the coming season based on his star turn during pre-season testing at Portimao.

Establishing himself as a consistent front runner over the three days, Haslam admits he was surprised to be straight on the pace aboard a bike that was still having the finishing touches put to it.

"The test went really well because we were surprised to be that close [to the front]," he told Crash.net Radio. "We went to the test to see where we were compared to everybody else and expected to be quite a bit off the pace because we didn't do too many laps, while we were testing quite a lot of stuff that had been built only a week before, like the engines and chassis.

"For me, it is a brand new team and everything here is new. They haven't just bought the parts, so to be consistently up there with a minimal amount of laps made us happy."

Shrugging off the stigma attached to riding for a private team by pointing out the immediate success Ten Kate experienced when they moved up from Supersports, Haslam's foremost target for the coming season is to be the best of the British contingent.

Acknowledging the challenge he faces in attempting to beat Shane Byrne, Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea, all of which are rivals from his time in the British Superbike Championship, Haslam insists that overcoming his countrymen should also ensure he is a regular contender for podiums.

"As a rider, first and foremost, you want to win. The whole team wants to achieve that, but on the side of that you want to be the first Brit, beat your team-mate and be the best of whatever manufacturer you are riding for.

"I want to beat Ten Kate and be the first Honda, as well as the first Brit. If I can achieve those two things, then we can probably be inside the top three. For the first year, with a brand new team, I will be over the moon with that."

Looking ahead to the first round of the season in Australia, Haslam is itching to make his official World Superbike return having last competed in the series five years ago. Although he arrives on the world scene having not been able to secure the British title, Haslam insists it is on this stage that he feels more confident.

"I first came to World Superbikes in 2004 and it was my first season on Superbikes. It was a massive eye opener! I was team-mate to Noriyuki Haga, who was challenging for the championship, and I managed to get a podium, but I also got injured and missed the second half of the season with a broken wrist.

"It was a tough blending year on a Superbike, but I loved every moment of it. I grew up on the European tracks, so I am looking forward to getting back on that scene and returning to circuits where you can really battle and overtake on."



Loading Comments...