The press release issued earlier today by the Alstare Suzuki team came as no surprise: Alstare boss Francis Batta merely formalized the news that the team had released Leon Haslam from the second year of his two-year contract that Haslam had with the Alstare squad. The reasons given were obvious: A lack of sponsorship combined with a lack of support from Suzuki's Hamamatsu headquarters, despite Haslam coming perilously close to securing the 2010 World Superbike title. The Englishman is now free to finalize the switch to BMW which has been so widely leaked.
Alstare's problems with Suzuki are not the only difficulties which the Japanese factory faces. Suzuki's future in MotoGP is currently under discussion in Japan, with Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta flying out early for meetings with Suzuki bosses this week, according to British bike weekly Motorcycle News. Suzuki has not yet announced the level of support that it will give its MotoGP squad for 2011, though pulling out of the series is not an option. After Kawasaki announced it was withdrawing from the series, Ezpeleta went on a tour of all of the Japanese factories, to explain the terms of the contract they signed with Dorna and the consequences should any of them be tempted to follow Kawasaki's lead. Pulling out of MotoGP would prove to be at least as expensive as sitting out the year for Suzuki, and as a consequence, Paul Denning's Crescent Suzuki team will continue for at least one more year in the series. With the current contract between the manufacturers and Dorna ending after the 2011 season, Suzuki could seize that opportunity to pull out of the series altogether.
The text of the official press release from Alstare announcing their release of Leon Haslam follows below:
Team Alstare announcement - Alleur, September 27th, 2010
Team Alstare hereby informs the international press and media that Leon Haslam has been released from the two-year contract with Team Alstare.
For the past six weeks Team Alstare has been waiting for an answer from its principal partner regarding the situation for the future of the Team.
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.
Such a lack of interest and an unclear situation from our main partner forces Team Alstare to let Leon decide his own future.
Francis and Patricia Batta have been in contact with Leon Haslam's advisors for the past few weeks and were informed that Leon had received some proposals from manufacturers.
It is therefore in total agreement between the parties that Leon was authorised to deal with another manufacturer in order for him not to lose an opportunity to further his future career .
Team Alstare, Francis, Patricia and all the staff want to thank Leon and his family for the fabulous season he achieved.
We all wish Leon all the best for the season 2011. We are disappointed to lose such a talented rider in whom we had put all of our hopes. Obviously our main partner did not share our opinion.
Leon Haslam will be released from his obligations with Team Alstare on Sunday night after the last race in Magny-Cours (October 3rd) in order for him to test with his new team.