Leon Haslam has admitted his relief after clinching pole position for the opening round of the 2016 MCE British Superbike season at Silverstone.
The JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider took pole at the Northamptonshire circuit with a lap-time of 2:05.501 – just +0.061s ahead of Jason O’Halloran.
Today was Haslam’s 12th pole position in BSB and his first since the Knockhill round in 2008.
Having finished as a runner-up in the champiosnhip on two occasions, many believe that the ‘Pocket Rocket’ is one of the favorites for the title this season.
This is something that brings plenty of pressure and Haslam has admitted that he was relieved after taking top spot today.
Speaking after qualifying, Haslam said: “This was probably one of the most nerve-wracking days of my career! Everything is new, we’re getting used to the bike still and this morning was the first time I had ridden the bike in the wet. Throughout testing we’ve been working on the harder Pirelli tyre, concentrating on race runs so this was the first time I used the softer SC0 for quite a while.
“Naturally I’m relieved, but also really happy. The team has been been mega all winter and have worked so hard, they can’t do enough for me. The passion is there with the whole team, and the Kawasaki is working really well so I want to thank them for everything and hopefully I can thank them properly tomorrow with some good results!”
The 32-year-old’s teammates ended the day in 16th (Peter Hickman) and 30th (James Ellison) respectively.
Team principal Mark Smith-Halvorsen said: “It was great to see Leon recognise his potential so early on in the season! I think most people had him down to do well from the start, but he’s brought the goods and has given himself a fantastic opportunity to score two great results tomorrow.
“Although the other two guy’s results might not show it, they both feel they now have a strong package and every time they’ve gone out this weekend they’ve improved. I’m not worried about their positions, James showed he had the potential to challenge for the front row and we know he can fight back tomorrow whilst Pete has now cured the chatter problems and will be back challenging tomorrow!”
Race one of the 2016 season is scheduled to begin at 13:30 tomorrow, with the second race duo to begin at 16.30pm.