Leon Haslam says HRC’s involvement in Honda’s new World Superbike challenger gives him faith the project will succeed as he finds a fresh start after being “on a bike that is already winning and is very fixed in its ways”.

After one season alongside reigning World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea at Kawasaki, Haslam has moved to spearhead Honda’s new effort in the production series alongside new team-mate Alvaro Bautista.

Both riders are tasked with getting the new CBR1000RR-R from a standing start to winning races in World Superbikes and Haslam feels the scale of Honda’s ambition has been met by HRC’s involvement in the team and new bike. MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez has also tested a road verison of the new Honda Superbike and given his feedback and support to the project.

“The biggest thing for me is the backing of Honda and HRC. It is a new bike and they have made such a big step in the development and effort behind,” Haslam said. “Also the openness of the whole team wanting to succeed.

“The people behind the project, everything, for me it gives me confidence and it is exciting.

“I am not getting on a bike that is already winning and is very fixed in its ways. Everything is open and that is really, really good.”

Haslam topped the opening day of the Jerez test – the first public outing of the new-look Honda World Superbike squad – in wet and windy weather and despite the challenging conditions the 2018 British Superbike champion was content with the early progress at the Spanish circuit despite only completing 14 laps on the first day. Haslam has also run initial private tests with the new Honda in Japan and Spain at the end of last year.

“We had a really good feeling and it is the first time we tried the Honda in the rain. To end up P1 has definitely put a smile on my face,” he said.

“It isn’t necessarily about trying to improve yet, it is about trying all the items we have to test. These bikes are so versatile now, there are many areas of the bike that you can adapt and change. They are the items that we have got to get through.

“There are a lot of items we are waiting for it to be dry to test but at the same time it was good to do our first laps in the rain for that feeling and that understanding. There are also items that we can try in the rain so, so far, so good.”

Haslam is also confident he and Bautista can form a potent partnership at Honda using both their respective experiences from previous manufacturers.

“It is super exciting. For what Alvaro did last year, winning 16 races last year, to have him on the other side of the garage is so great,” he said. “We are both the same age and he comes with a lot of experience from MotoGP and many different manufacturers.

“It is good that we are on the same lines of understanding of the bike and we can push both each other and the project to get to where we want to be which is winning races.”

The Jerez World Superbike pre-season test concludes today.

 

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