Leon Haslam has secured his place on the grid for next season as Honda set their sights on continuity – one of just two factory teams to do that ahead of 2021…
Leon Haslam will complete an unchanged Team HRC line-up for 2021 as he partners Alvaro Bautista for another season. The 2010 WorldSBK runner-up has had a very consistent season and his renowned development skills have seen Honda come on leaps and bounds. From the first round of the season, they were in the podium battle and Bautista eventually delivered at MotorLand Aragon in August. Haslam’s best result of the season is fourth and he’ll be hoping to end 2020 well, to continue the good development of the Honda into 2021.
Haslam is the latest signing on the 2021 grid, after PATA Yamaha announced Andrea Locatelli will partner Toprak Razgatlioglu, Michael Ruben Rinaldi will replace Chaz Davies and Japanese rookie Kohta Nozane will join Garrett Gerloff at GRT Yamaha, with the latter on a 2021-spec motorcycle. This also comes just days after Lucas Mahias was announced as the Puccetti Kawasaki WorldSBK entrant for next season. You can get a full look of the 2021 grid as it stands here.
Haslam’s relationship with Honda has been illustrious, with the British rider set to start his 100th race for the Japanese firm in Race 2 at Estoril this weekend – only the fourth rider in WorldSBK to achieve this milestone after Aaron Slight (163), Jonathan Rea (140) and Colin Edwards (127). His last podium for Honda came in the wet of Magny-Cours in 2014, his first one coming as a wildcard at Portimao back in 2008. Haslam’s sort-after versatility has seen him at the forefront of Honda’s factory comeback to WorldSBK in 2020, with him topping the first public test that the all-new CBR1000RR-R SP Fireblade took part in.
Speaking about the new deal, 37-year-old Haslam said: “To say I’m pleased about renewing my contract with Team HRC would be an understatement. This year has been difficult, with COVID-19 and limited test sessions, but I knew right from the start that this project has great potential, so to have a second year in which to continue developing the Fireblade and working with the team is very important to me. I’m really confident that we can be fighting for the top steps of the podium in WorldSBK and that’s my ultimate goal; to work towards this with Honda and Team HRC is fantastic. I’m excited and can’t wait for the 2021 season to get underway.”
Yoshishige Nomura, the president of HRC, also evoked his delight of Haslam continuation with the brand into 2021: “We are pleased to announce that Leon Haslam will remain a part of our Team HRC factory squad for another year. Leon is an experienced and highly motivated rider who has strongly committed to our WorldSBK project since joining Honda at the end of 2019. He’s been working hard with the HRC engineers to exploit the full potential of production model CBR1000RR-R SP Fireblade despite all the limitations and challenges posed by the globally unsettling COVID-19 pandemic.”
Nomura also commented on the goals for the manufacturer, saying: “Confirming our rider line-up will bring continuity to our project and allow us to continue along our growth path in the most important production-based Championship. We are confident that we have the potential to win races as well as the title and we will continue to work towards this goal.”
Can HRC celebrate their 2021 continuity by signing off with a bang this year? Find out with the WorldSBK VideoPass!