BMW signs Leon Haslam for 2011 World Superbike season

Brit to partner with returning Troy Corser on official BMW Motorrad Motorsport squad; Xaus out

Leon Haslam

With Alstare Suzuki announcing on Sept 27 that it was releasing rider Leon Haslam from the second year of his contract with the team due to the team’s financial uncertainty, the door was open for the 27-year-old British WSBK rider to shop his services elsewhere. It didn’t take long: BMW immediately snapped up Haslam for its 2011 World Superbike team, where he will be paired with current team rider Troy Corser. This leaves current team rider Ruben Xaus searching for a ride next year, a not unexpected situation considering his inconsistent season that saw him end up on the ground many times.

Haslam was the main challenger to Alitalia Aprilia’s Max Biaggi in ’10 for the WSBK championship, with the Alstare Suzuki rider the only one to post up enough consistent placings to keep Biaggi in sight point-wise. Haslam has won three races this year out of 13 podium placings (with only the season-ending Magny-Cours, France round to run); it was the DNFs at very inopportune times—including the engine failure in the second race at last weekend’s Monza event that mathematically put him out of the title chase, effectively handing Biaggi the title—that were the truly costly occurrences. Only Biaggi and HANNspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea won more races over the season, making Haslam one of the main contender’s for next year’s title if BMW continues their rapid progress from ’10.

“We’re extremely excited about working with Troy and Leon,” BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Berthold Hauser said in the team press release. “This rider pairing brings together a wealth of expertise and youthful fighting spirit. We’re very pleased to have not only a double world champion in our team for next year, but also the runner-up in the 2010 World Championship. It’s just the right combination for our recently formed team at this stage of the project.”

Hauser knows that adding Haslam to the BMW team has made it one of the stronger squads in the 2011 WSBK championship. “We’ve been monitoring Leon for a long time now and have been more than impressed by his strengths as a rider,” Hauser said. “We’re extremely happy to be able to welcome him into our team. We have a strong pair of riders in Troy and Leon and are in no doubt that we’ll be able to achieve our ambitious aims with them on board. We would also like to thank Ruben Xaus, who over the last two years has helped to take the team to where it is today. We wish him all the best for the future.”

Haslam is obviously happy to continue his career with a full factory team, and hasn’t been blind to the BMW’s advances over the past two seasons. "I've watched the progress of the BMW S1000RR in the past two seasons and the almost constant improvement of the machine has been very impressive,” said Haslam. “I'm very much looking forward to riding the machine and experiencing for myself what I've been watching. The team has shown the potential to win and the team has the factory support required so I'm hopeful that I can add the extra little bit that is needed to win. I'm really grateful to BMW for showing such faith in me and patience during difficult times and we're looking forward together now for a successful 2011."