Leon Haslam is targeting his first victory of 2011 as the World Superbike Championship heads to Salt Lake City for Memorial Day.
Miller Motorsports Park plays host to round five of the championship on Monday with the 1km start/finish straight set to produce some spectacular racing. Last year Haslam achieved a podium finish in race one but was forced to retire in race two, losing the championship lead at the time to Max Biaggi.
The Briton is yet to figure in the title battle this time around and lies in sixth place, 61 points behind Carlos Checa. But Haslam is excited ahead of this weekend's action and is hoping to add to his two podium finishes so far this year.
“Salt Lake is always a great place to go to race over in the US, especially on Memorial Weekend as there is a fantastic atmosphere. The circuit itself is quite challenging and the layout offers a good mix of everything. It is a circuit on which you have to fight and it is quite difficult to ride. That said, I enjoy going there and am pretty excited about racing the S1000RR in Monday's two races.”
BMW Motorrad teammate Troy Corser was on top form at Monza and led both races in the early stages after a pair of lightning starts. The Australian feels the progress made with the S1000RR has brought the team into contention for regular podiums, and that is what he is setting his sights on this weekend.
“I would like to think that on the back of two solid results in Monza we can really push on and go for the podium in Salt Lake. Last year we had a few issues which held us back slightly, but now the S1000RR feels a lot more balanced and I am hopeful we can do better this time round.”
“It's a circuit I enjoy riding; it's quite technical and fast, and similar to Assen and Monza in some respects so for sure I am looking forward to getting out there and seeing what we can do. We are definitely in the lead group of riders now – we just have to make that next step and really push on for race wins.”
One of the unique challenges of the Miller Motorsports Park is that is situated 4,419 feet above sea level, and BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director Bernhard Gobmeier thinks the altitude factor may benefit his team.
“Salt Lake is an interesting racetrack at a very high altitude. This could be an advantage for us, as we now have more engine power, so the altitude won’t have that much influence on our performance. In the meantime we also did a lot of work on the chassis and we also had an encouraging outing at Misano, where we completed an extensive programme of testing. As such, we are travelling to the US with a lot of confidence.”