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‘Pocket Rocket’ Leon Haslam stands in for injured Sykes and van der Mark at Imola

After an injury to substitute rider Tom Sykes and with regular rider Michael van der Mark requiring more time to get back to the track, Leon Haslam returns to WorldSBK for 2023’s Round 7.

The seventh round of the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship comes from Imola for the Prometeon Italian Round and there’ll be a familiar name on the grid this weekend for the first time this season. Leon Haslam will be in action for the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, as original substitute rider Tom Sykes recovers from his Donington Park Race 2 crash, whilst full-time rider Michael van der Mark needs more time to get back to full fitness after his Assen Race 2 crash.

‘Pocket Rocket’ Haslam is one of the most experienced riders in World Superbike, having raced for Ducati, Honda, Suzuki, BMW, Aprilia and Kawasaki during his time in the Championship, clinching podiums with all of those manufacturers. Haslam rode for BMW in 2011 and 2012 and whilst he wasn’t able to take victory, eight podiums – including a debut podium in Australia – saw him a constant front-runner. In 2023, he’s back in the BMW family, having achieved six podiums for the ROKiT BMW Motorrad Team in British Superbikes, including two podiums last weekend at Snetterton 300. He’s currently fifth in the championship.

Speaking ahead of the round, the #91 is hopeful of doing a solid job at a circuit which he knows well: “It’s a fantastic opportunity. 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.”

BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Marc Bongers thanked Haslam for standing in, saying: “First of all, many thanks to Leon for being available at short notice to be with us at Imola. We know each other well from the past, where we celebrated success together, and this season he has returned to the BMW Motorrad family in BSB and is familiar with the new BMW M 1000 RR. He also has a lot of WorldSBK experience, and we are confident that he will quickly get back up to speed at Imola.

“After his crash at Donington, Tom Sykes is on the road to recovery and was discharged from the hospital on Sunday after a week, and we all send him our best wishes. Michael van der Mark participated in a track day last week, however a return for Imola would still be too early, and we have jointly decided that he will sit out this weekend, and then we will reassess the situation.”

Posted on Tuesday, July 11th, 2023 in News

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