Leon Haslam : biography
Leon Lloyd Haslam (born 31 May 1983 in Smalley, Derbyshire) is a motorcycle racer from England. He began racing at an early age and by the time he was in his late teens, he had raced in most of the significant British and international championships. Between 2005 and 2008 he was a regular front-runner in the British Superbike Championship. For 2009 he switched to the Superbike World Championship, remaining there in 2010 (his third full season in the class) on a factory Suzuki. Haslam is nicknamed 'Pocket Rocket' and is the son of 'Rocket' Ron Haslam.
British Superbikes 2005–2008
With Renegade switching to Honda machinery and cutting to one riderhttp://official.sportnetwork.net/main/s385/st61218.htm Haslam moved to BSB with the reformed GSE Racing Squad, now known as Airwaves Ducati. Haslam finished 4th overall behind only team-mate Lavilla and the two HM Plant Hondas of Ryuichi Kiyonari and Michael Rutter.
2006 saw Leon once again on the Airwaves sponsored GSE Ducati 999, partnering Lavilla. In the first 12 races of the 2006 season he finished 2nd no less than 8 times, without winning a race but taking 3 poles and lying 2nd overall. The wins came later; he was particularly proud of a win in the wet at Croft.
He managed to push for the title all the way to the last race of the season at a rain soaked Brands Hatch where Leon, Lavilla and Kiyonari all had a chance to win. Leon was running second to Kiyo in the first race when it was stopped after Byrne crashed heavily, and despite storming to victory in the second race, he ended the season in second place and Lavilla (who crashed in race one) was third. Leon did however drive off in the £50,000 Audi convertible which was his prize for scoring the most points in the Audi pole position competition.
While Lavilla won the first four races and lead the championship after eight, Haslam struggled to match these results. However, two second places at Oulton Park in round four moved him up to fourth overall. He ultimately finished 3rd, behind Kiyonari and Jonathan Rea's Hondas but ahead of a fading Lavilla.
Haslam was released by Airwaves Ducati for 2008, when they initially withdrew from the series over questions about the legality of the Ducati 1098 under the new BSB tuning rules.http://www.motorcyclenews.com/MCN/sport/sportresults/mcn/2007/october/oct15-21/oct1507gseracingquitbsb/ He joined Airwaves' rivals HM Plant Honda, but the Ducati proved to be the faster bike, with Shakey Byrne dominating the championship. Haslam struggled early in the season http://betting.betfair.com/betting/other/the-betfair-big-interview-leon-haslam-260608.html and was generally outpaced by younger team-mate Cal Crutchlow, and was excluded from race 2 at Oulton Park after a racing incident with Tom Sykes.http://www.crash.net/motorsport/bsb/news/162950-0/haslam_excluded.html Despite several podium finishes his first win did not come until round 8 at Knockhill, when race leader Byrne crashed heavily.http://www.motorcyclenews.com/MCN/sport/sportresults/mcn/2008/august/4-10/aug1008-knockhill-bsb-race-2-/ He then took a double win at Cadwell Park, despite not starting on the front row
Haslam also made two wild card appearance in the World Superbike Championship at Donington Park and Portimão. A competitive showing at Donington ended with disappointing results. In race one he ran with the leaders after a red flag, but eased off after seeing a white flag with a red cross, which means the surface is slippery in WSBK, while in British Superbike, that indicates a safety vehicle is on course (typically a full-course caution period to neutralise the race with the deployment of the safety car). The time he lost here proved costly, as he was taken out a lap later. In race two he crashed out of fourth place with just three laps to go. At Portimão he finished third in race two, with a German flag above him on the podium, implying that the officials expected Max Neukirchner to overhaul him.
World Superbike Championship 2004
For 2004 he did the full WSBK season for Renegade alongside Noriyuki Haga. He was 8th overall with a best of 3rd, finishing as the rookie of the year. Haslam also had an impressive victory in a British Superbike race at Brands Hatch on one of the team's 3 ventures into the series. In torrential rain, this was the only Ducati win in the series all year, even though this was the title-winning bike in both 2003 (Shane "Shakey" Byrne) and 2005 (Gregorio Lavilla).
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