After 20 years of bouncing between British and World Superbikes, Leon Haslam is heading back to BSB for 2022.
Leon Haslam is the latest in a long list of world class riders to take the step back to domestic competition, after racing for so many years at international level. On paper, or in any other sport, that might be seen as a bit of a backwards step, but such is the level of competition in the British Superbike Championship, if it is a backwards step, it’s not a very big one.
BSB, for as long as most of us can remember, has been a stepping stone for riders on their way up, as well as on their way back down. That’s has given the series a unique mix of youthful exuberance and time-served experience. If you ask me, that’s one of the things that makes the championship one of the best in the world.
Back in business
It came as no real surprise when the news came out today that Leon Haslam will once again be lining up on the BSB grid, this time for the Lee Hardy Racing team. It’s after a couple of difficult years onboard the HRC Fireblade (and a year before that on a Factory Kawasaki) in World Superbikes. In fact at one time or another, he’s raced for Ducati, Honda, Suzuki, BMW, Aprilia and Kawasaki in World Superbikes. I wonder what he’s got against Yamaha.
Haslam should feel reasonably at home on the Kawasaki in BSB since the ZX-10RR hasn’t changed massively since 2018, when he won the BSB Championship on it. He won on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki, beating Jake Dixon who was riding the Lee Hardy bike at the time.
The team sponsor hasn’t been announced yet, so we don’t know what the bike will look like. That said, the team’s facebook profile brags Kappa branding – yes, the 90’s tracksuits – and I’m sure Kawasaki will want to be involved, because you’d have to say there is definitely potential for Leon Haslam to take a second BSB crown. Expect there might be a bit of green on the bike somewhere.
This is what Leon had to say about his return to BSB
“I’m super excited to be back in the British Championship and also to be back with Kawasaki, especially with the link to my Kawasaki-backed Affinity Sports Academy team. It’s been a tough few years racing abroad so it’s going to be great back in front of my home crowd once again! I know it’s going to be a tough year against these guys but I’m looking forward to the challenge and have a lot of faith in the team around me.”
And his new boss, Lee Hardy, said this
“I’m very excited to have signed an agreement with Leon to contest the 2022 British Superbike Championship. Leon has proved what an asset he can be to a team, and we look forward to building a strong partnership together. We have both had amazing success with the Kawasaki brand, Leon last won the championship in 2018 with them and in that same year the Lee Hardy Racing team finished second to him also on Ninja machinery. We both have forged a great alliance with Kawasaki, and I see this as an incredible opportunity to fight for the championship again.”
The first round of the 2022 BSB Championship is in two months’ time (15th April) at Silverstone, and with a few ex-BSB champs on the grid (Haslam, Brookes), and one current one (Mackenzie), it’s shaping up to be a corker of a year. I can’t wait.