BMW confirms Haslam to replace injured Tom Sykes

BMW confirms Haslam to replace injured Tom Sykes

Injured Michael van der Mark and Tom Sykes from ROKiT BMW Motorrad will be replaced by Leon Haslam on the WorldSBK Championship grid for Round 7 of the 2023 season at Imola this weekend.

BMW has called up Leon Haslam for the World Superbike round in Imola, which takes place next weekend as Michael van der Mark is out with an injury and his replacement Tom Sykes is also out while healing from multiple fractures.

This weekend’s race will also mark Haslam’s return to BMW on the world arena. Haslam is one of the most skilled and versatile riders in the championship, having held brief affiliations with Ducati, Honda, Suzuki, Aprilia, and Kawasaki since making his full-time WorldSBK debut in 2004.

The 40-year-old ace returns to the sport after retiring from full-time racing in 2021. While this year he is participating in the British Superbike Championship with the BMW Motorrad Team, he participated in two rounds with TPR Team Pedercini last season.

This weekend, he replaces Tom Sykes in the factory ROKiT BMW squad, who was involved in a horrific crash during Race 2 at Donington Park and has 13 fractured ribs. Michael van der Mark who also had fractured his leg in a crash at Assen, was replaced by the 2013 WorldSBK Champion too.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity,” said Haslam after the announcement. “Obviously, I have a lot of history with Imola.

“We took the Championship in 2010 down to the last round at Imola. It’s fantastic to ride again for BMW Motorrad Motorsport.

“We are riding the BMW M 1000 RR in the UK so I’m looking forward to working with Shaun Muir and all the guys from the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team.

“I have no real big expectations, I just want to try to enjoy and hopefully we can get some good information and some good results.”

Haslam raced in a few WorldSBK events on the Renegade Ducati in 2003, ran a full season with the team in 2004 and then switched to BSB for the following four years.

He made a comeback in 2009 on the privateer Stiggy Honda before switching to Alstare Suzuki for 2010, where he finished a career-high second to Max Biaggi. Haslam later raced for Pata Honda and BMW Motorrad, but his return to BSB resulted in a commanding title victory in 2018.

Haslam went on to work with the factory Kawasaki and Honda teams for additional stints, finishing with five victories and 45 podium finishes in 322 WorldSBK events.

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