Along with Alex Lowes and Jonathan Rea, Haslam formed part of the Kawasaki Racing Team that finished second in last month’s 43rd Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race. But while the 39-year-old will continue with Kawasaki power for the EWC season decider at Circuit Paul Ricard, he will switch to the French privateer TATI Team Beringer Racing squad instead, replacing Alan Techer, who is deputising for the injured Gino Rea at F.C.C. TSR Honda France.
A rider with experience at Grand Prix and Superbike World Championship level, Briton Haslam can count on two strong team-mates for support during his Bol d’Or debut in Belgian Bastien Mackels, who has returned from injury after missing the 24H SPA EWC Motos in June, and Gregory Leblanc, who has four Bol d’Or victories to his name.
“It’s the first time for me at this track and the first time I’ll be entering a 24-hour race,” said Haslam, a three-time winner of the Suzuka 8 Hours and a frontrunner in the British Superbike Championship. “It was a bit of a last-minute call-up but it’s nice to learn a new circuit and the EWC is probably one of the most open championships when it comes to what bikes and tyres work well. I feel in this short period of time we had we made some good steps.”
Although his team-mates are well-versed in day and night endurance racing, Haslam is a rookie. “These sorts of challenges excite me,” he said. “Everyone I’ve spoken to who’s done it are saying you’ll be regretting your decision at two or three in the morning but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. My dad [Ron Haslam] finished second at Le Mans a fair few years ago now and it will be nice to take on the challenge.”
In terms of his Bol d’Or target, Haslam, who took part in the two-day Bol d’Or pre-test last week, said: “The factory teams look a step ahead. TATI Team Beringer Racing is a private team but they’re the top privateer team so it would be nice to get as far up as we can. It’s a 24-hour race, anything can happen and they already made a podium at Spa when a few teams crashed out. We’ll give it a good go and see where we are.”
TATI Team Beringer Racing finished second in the 24H SPA EWC Motos in June with when Leblanc was joined by Loïc Abel and Alan Techer on the #4 Kawasaki ZX-10R.