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Haslam pleased to have a fast team-mate

Leon Haslam welcomes the arrival of Marco Melandri to the BMW team as he begins the countdown towards the start of the 2012 World Superbike Championship.

Leon Haslam believes the arrival of Marco Melandri will be a positive boost for both himself and BMW as he begins his preparations for the 2012 World Superbike Championship season.

Haslam, runner-up with Suzuki in 2010, scored three podium finishes on the way to fifth place in the final standings, but struggled to be a consistent front-runner aboard the temperamental BMW S1000RR.

However, Haslam is feeling confident about his chances ahead of 2012, insisting BMW has implemented many of the changes he felt were required to make the bike a stronger package.

He is also pleased to have a strong team-mate in Melandri, the Italian, who finished second to Carlos Checa last season, switching to BMW following Yamaha's withdrawal from the series

"I have known him for years and he used to live nearby me in England," he said. "We used to ride motocross together as well. I am happy to have Marco as a team-mate. The opinions he has given about the bike are the same ones I had last year. Marco brings a lot of experience and it is good to have a fast team-mate as well."

"We have got a lot of the changes to the bike that we were asking for year last year, some new staff and a new structure. I still have my crew chief Giacomo Guidotti, plus two new mapping and data analysis guys, Bruno and Stefano. The main factors we have improved with the package are electronics, engine management and machine rideability."

Having made a handful of post-season test outings last year, Haslam will return to the track next week at Valencia before flying out to Australia to prepare for the opening round of the season.

"We are going to Europe to test next week, at Valencia, then we will be heading to Australia for some track time with lots of other teams, and then the official tests before the first race. The testing ban has made it a very long winter so I am really eager to get back into it again.

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