Haslam: Top 2011 WSBK Contender?

2011 World Superbike

There is often a kind of poetic resilience and quiet pride inherent in being a runner-up, like that of an overlooked groomsman.

The resulting strength of character carries a certain beauty to it-especially when contributing factors may be to blame for being relegated to the second fiddle position.

Leon Haslam, the 26-year old Smalley, Derbyshire, England native was the 2010 WSBK runner-up, finishing second to Italian, Max Biaggi.

Since 1991, when he started racing in the junior ranks, Haslam has seen battle on dirt as well as pavement. His natural talent and gritty determination have rewarded him with a steadily ascending career in both motocross and roadracing. Haslam has had stints in UK Superbike Championships, 125cc, 250cc, and 500cc Grand Prix, and World Superbike.

The 2010 season is when things really came together for the affable Brit while aboard the Team Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000RR in World Superbike competition.

Haslam was one of the only riders to consistently stay with the Aprilia/Biaggi powerhouse. Despite some seemingly unjust bad luck preventing him from challenging Biaggi ("The Roman Emperor") to the end, his string of strong results was certainly a preview of things to come.

For 2011 Leon has taken the seat vacated by Spaniard Ruben Xaus on the official BMW squad, teaming with veteran WSBK regular, Troy Corser.

The factory BMW S1000RR has been liveried with Haslam’s trademark number 91 and the soft-spoken Brit has already delivered impressive results in early tests, looking to be a contender once again for the title in 2011.

Most significantly, in his personal life, Haslam has rid himself of the overlooked groomsman label by marrying longtime girlfriend Olivia Stringer over the recent December holiday.

Following the nuptials in Sweden the newlyweds honeymooned in Borneo for New Years.

Perhaps the abolishment of the overlooked groomsman badge in his personal life will carry over to his professional career on track in WSBK for 2011.

Leon Haslam won the opening round at Phillip Island last year (site of his first WSBK victory), which bodes well for him coming into the new season. Only time will tell. Team BMW and Haslam are warming up for the start of things in less than three weeks time in Australia.