Leon Haslam to make an early WorldSBK return at Assen

Leon Haslam to make an early WorldSBK return at Assen

Following the Kawasaki satellite team’s break with Loris Cresson, Leon Haslam will compete at this weekend’s World Superbike event in Assen for Pedercini.

Haslam has already inked a deal with Pedercini for four wildcard appearances at Misano, Donington Park, Most, and Portimao, so he will compete in at least five WSBK events this year.

Haslam had raced with Pedercini on a one-off basis in the 2016 season finale in Qatar before joining the factory Kawasaki team three years later.

The transfer to Honda was followed by a partnership with Alvaro Bautista, but the British rider was discarded at the end of last year in favour of an all-rookie team led by Xavi Vierge and Iker Lecuona.

Haslam’s primary focus for 2022 is the British Superbike Championship, where he will compete for the Lee Hardy Racing team on a Kawasaki ZX-10RR. His deal with Pedercini, though, ensures that he will compete in roughly half of the 12 events on the WSBK calendar in 2022.

“I have fond memories of Assen over the years and so when the opportunity arose to race with TPR Team Pedercini in one additional race it was easy to say yes,” said Haslam, a five-time race winner in WSBK and the 2018 BSB champion.

“I have ridden with the team before and achieved a top five result in Qatar and I know how they work.”

“It will be a tough ask coming straight into Round 2 with no testing on the bike and the Championship being so strong this year but knowing that we will also race together in four other rounds after this,” he added.

“I am confident that we can gain a lot of valuable information and have a positive weekend together.”

Cresson had inked a two-year deal with Pedercini in 2021, but their collaboration appeared to be in jeopardy when he was left off the initial iteration of the WSBK’s entry list for the upcoming season.

After downscaling to a single Kawasaki entry in 2022, the team did eventually announce Cresson, but the Belgian rider could only manage a pair of 23rd place results in the season’s first round a fortnight ago.

Pedercini and Cresson announced their breakup on Wednesday, less than 48 hours before the first practise session in the Netherlands. After Assen, it’s unknown who will ride the team’s primary bike for the rest of the season.

“It is an unexpected first wildcard appearance with us for Leon who will now compete in at least five races for us this season,” said team principal Lucio Pedercini.

“We are sorry that we have not been able to continue with our original 2022 plan, but the show must go on and we delighted to welcome Leon back to the team earlier than we had anticipated.”

“We go into the weekend confident of achieving three solid results.”

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