Team Suzuki Alstare rider Leon Haslam recovered from a disappointing 11th place in race one of the Assen World Superbike fourth round in Holland today to take runner-up spot in race two and extend his World Championship lead.
His motorcycle racing main rivals – Max Biaggi on the Aprilia RSV4 Factory and Noriyuki Haga on the Ducati 1198R – were unable to fully-capitalize on his lower-than-normal placing in the opener and Biaggi now trails the Suzuki GSX-R1000 mounted Briton by 20 points.
Haslam’s position in the first race was a result of a loss of air pressure in his front tire which meant he couldn’t push hard at all: At first he thought it was a brake problem, but he kept going and collected five valuable Championship points.
Jonathan Rea on the Honda CBR1000RR SBK won the race, with fellow Britons James Toseland (WSBK Yamaha R1) and Leon Camier (Aprilia) second and third.
Race two was an absolute scorcher – one of the best in World Superbike history: Rea won it, but only after the ‘Mother of Battles’ with Haslam, Troy Corser and Toseland, which saw plenty of close contact involving elbows and handlebars.
As Haslam celebrated extending his lead in the series, it was not such a good day for team mate Sylvain Guintoli: The Frenchman hardly recovered from his position in qualifying and never found his rhythm in either of today’s 22-lap races, finishing 14th in race one and 13th in race two.
Leon Haslam (Race 1: 11th, Race 2: 2nd) says: “Today was very, very hard, but I am happy because I have extended my lead in the series. In race one I had a problem with the front end and was struggling in 16th after five laps. I wasn’t sure if it was a brake problem, but when the bike was checked over after the race, the team discovered that air had escaped from the front tyre. It was a real struggle to keep going especially when I was with a couple of other riders, but I was determined to bring the bike home one way or another. The team changed the front discs and pads – in case they were part of the problem – for race two and I was able to do a normal race. It was a fantastic race, with plenty of close contact. Elbows were everywhere and we were close enough to touch each other’s handlebars. It was very hard, but fair, and we all enjoyed it a lot. It must have been great for the fans and of course, having both podiums filled by Brits was also great.”
Sylvain Guintoli (Race 1: 14th, Race 2: 13th ) says: “This was a weekend to forget and I don’t really even want to think about it anymore. It didn’t start well and never really improved, although it did get a bit better yesterday and I might have been able to rescue something if I had managed to find my rhythm today. But I didn’t, and having a problem with another rider in race two didn’t help either: I’m not sure if it was Sykes or Lanzi but there was an impact and that affected the steering of my bike. I was lucky not to crash but I thought I might as well keep going and see what happened. The steering felt strange and I just couldn’t push any harder. I think it’s better I forget today and start thinking about the next race in Monza, because that is something positive.”
World Superbike Results
Race 1: 1. Jonathan Rea (GBR-Honda), 2. James Toseland (GBR-Yamaha), 3. Leon Camier (GBR-Aprilia), 4. Carlos Checa (ESP-Ducati), 5. Troy Corser (AUS-BMW), 6. Max Biaggi (ITA-Aprilia)… 11. Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare.
Race 2: 1. Rea, 2 Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare), 3. Toseland, 4. Biaggi, 5. Corser (AUS-BMW Motorrad Motorsport), 6. Checa… 13. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare).
World SBK Championship Points
1. Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare) 148, 2. Biaggi 128, 3. Rea 110, 4. Checa 103, 5. Toseland 86, 6 Haga 85, 7. Troy Corser (AUS-BMW Motorrad Motorsport) 68, 8 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare) 55.