Team Suzuki Alstare rider took a pair of superb runner-up spots in today’s second round of the Superbike World Championship in Portimao and increased his series lead at the same time.
Leon fought tooth and nail with Max Biaggi (Aprilia) in both 22-lappers, and lost out on victory by the narrowest of margins – two tenths of a second in race one and just over a tenth in race two. Leon’s tally of forty points keeps him top of the standings, sixteen ahead of second placed Biaggi.
It was always going to be a hard day for Leon’s team mate Sylvain, starting from the third row of the grid, but the Frenchman put in a pair of solid performances, finishing 13th in the first race and ninth in the second.
Leon Haslem - Race 1: 2nd, Race 2: 2nd
"If anybody had told me before the start of the season that I would’ve won one race and taken three podiums in the first four races, I would not have believed them. It’s a great feeling to win a race, take three runner-up spots and be leading the championship and my aim is to try and maintain this kind of consistency as long as I can. Today’s races were very hard and I had a lot of fun battling with Max. His bike is fast and there were a couple of places where he could get on the gas quicker than me, but my bike was good on the brakes."
"I did pass him quite a few times, but making it stick was a different matter. The grip level was down in race two, but it was the same for everybody, and the lap times were generally down on race one. The first time I jumped on the Suzuki Alstare bike I thought it was a good package and all the good work the team has done has proved how good it is. Of course, there are always some areas to improve and we’ll be going to the next round in Valencia hoping to put one over Max and all the other riders. I’ve had one victory and now I want more!"
Sylvain Guintoli - Race 1: 13th, Race 2: 9th
"To be honest, I feel like I messed up the weekend a bit. Race one was a complete disaster and it all started when I braked too late for turn one on lap two and had to go straight on. That cost me a lot of positions and time and I was in 22nd place at the end of that lap and had a lot of catching up to do. After that, I never really found my rhythm and perhaps 13th was not too bad considering. The second race was better, but in this championship you cannot afford to be average. You have to be on your game at all times."
"I don’t know why, but I feel that I didn’t start the weekend quite right and then it was always going to be difficult. The bike is really good, so it’s me who has to raise the bar and perform. I intend to attack Valencia right from the start of the weekend and be in a good position come raceday."
Race 1: 1 Biaggi (ITA-Aprilia), 2 Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare), 3 Rea (GBR-Honda), 4 Checa (ESP-Ducati), 5 Camier (GBR-Aprilia), 6 Byrne (GBR-Ducati), 13 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare)
Race 2: 1 Biaggi, 2 Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare), 3 Crutchlow (GBR-Yamaha), 4 Checa, 5 Camier, 6 Toseland (GBR-Yamaha), 9 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare)
Standings Riders WSBK Championship
1 Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare) 85, 2 Biaggi 69, 3 Checa 60, 4 Fabrizio 46, 5 Haga 43, 6 Rea, 7 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare) 33