Alstare Suzuki announced this morning that Leon Haslam has been let out of his contract with the “factory” Suzuki World Superbike team. Although only halfway through a two-year contract, Haslam is said to have a clause in his contract that guarantees him factory support within the team. With Suzuki’s involvement being brought into question for next season, Alstare team principal Francis Batta has had no choice but to release Haslam from team obligations after Magny-Cours. Although no announcement has come forth, Haslam is widely believed to be taking Ruben Xaus’s seat at BMW for the 2011 season.
In its press release to the international media, Alstare Suzuki didn’t hold back in laying the blame on Suzuki’s doorstep. “Last week, after Francis Batta’s visit to Japan, we were assured that an answer would be given to the Team before the race in Imola (September 23rd). Team Alstare received no news,” said the statement. “Such a lack of interest and an unclear situation from our main partner forces Team Alstare to let Leon decide his own future.”
Despite the fact that Haslam lead the World Superbike Championship in the first half of the season and plead for more support, Suzuki provided little assistance to the team, leaving Alstare to develop the WSBK spec GSX-R on its own. This left the door wide open for Aprilia to invest further in its R&D for Max Biaggi’s RSV4, which got a 3-5hp bump mid-season with a controversial gear-driven camshaft. Out-classed at this point, Haslam will have to finish out the season trying to maintain his second place status in the Championship.
Suzuki’s racing future looks equally unpromising, as the Japanese company has seen rumors float about regarding its MotoGP team. With questions arising as to how many bikes the team will field in 2011, new information also suggests that title sponsor Rizla may be leaving at the end of this year as well.
Source/Photo: Alstare Suzuki