Sometimes they return, one could say. More than five years since his last appearance on a Honda, Leon Haslam is back on the Japanese bike once again. After making the signing of Alvaro Bautista official in the summer, the HRC team had no doubts in relying on the qualities of the British rider, who last year shared the garage with a certain Johnny Rea.
The face of #91 therefore exudes confidence before the start of this adventure with Honda. Leon is excited about the season ahead and as a result full of ambitious goals on the day of the presentation of the livery of the new CBR 1000 RR-R in Tokyo.
"Signing for Honda is like going back home - Haslam said - I'm obviously very happy with this possibility and I can't wait for the season to start. Even though the years pass, inside me I’m aware that I’m at the best moment of my career and I am ready for this new challenge that awaits me".
Starting from Honda is like finding a family again, right?
"Sure. In the past I have had the opportunity to ride all the Hondas, even if this is a new bike, which has nothing to do with the others. I was really impressed with what the factory has done, because the CBR 1000 RR-R has a lot of potential; for example, the character of the bike, which is particularly aggressive".
What have you brought to Honda from the last year you spent in Kawasaki?
“The Kawasaki is a different bike than this, although I did manage to be fast on some occasions. It is difficult to make a comparison. Certainly, working in the box with Rea helps you improve and understand what his potential is, especially in the complicated moments".
In the past five years Rea has made only one mistake, last year in the Superpole Race. It seems he is impossible to beat. Is that what you think?
“Johnny is the favourite, but he still hasn't faced this bike developed by HRC. With the CBR 1000 RR-R we want to change the last five years of SBK history, which has always seen Rea triumph. Personally, I am confident and excited."
In a week there will be the first round at Phillip Island. What should we expect?
"Last year I fought for the podium in all three races in Australia and so the goal is to confirm those results. Inside I’m excited, seeing as I’m going to aim for the world title, supported by a team that makes me feel like I’m at the centre of the project".