After a fourth place in the first motorcycle race, Team Suzuki Alstare rider Leon Haslam fought tooth-and-nail to take a podium in the second race at the Monza World Superbike Championship fifth round in Italy to keep his series lead intact.
Haslam was charging after Cal Crutchlow in second place, but then inherited runner-up spot when Crutchlow slid off at the first chicane. Troy Corser (BMW S1000RR) was in Haslam’s wheeltracks for the last few laps, but the Suzuki GSX-R1000-mounted Briton held him off to take his seventh podium of the season.
Haslam’s team mate Sylvain Guintoli finished 10th in race one, but then improved in race two: He was on course for a terrific sixth place, but the smallest of mistakes in the last turn allowed Noriyuki Haga (Ducati) through.
Max Biaggi (Aprilia RSV4 Factory) won both races today with Yamaha R1 teammates James Toseland and Cal Crutchlow taking second and third in race one.
Leon Haslam (Race 1: 4th, Race 2: 2nd) says: "Today was a hard day and I’m happy to leave Monza still leading the title race. Max was strong here and I knew it was going to be tough pair of races. The podium in race two was very hard work, but I didn’t want to miss out on a podium today and kept battling away.
"I had a really big ‘moment’ in race two and was way out of the saddle twice in the space of a fraction of a second. Somehow I stayed on the bike, but it was a very close thing! After Cal crashed, Troy kept me on my toes, but Max was too far in front for me to catch so I just made sure of runner-up spot. I did something to my wrist when I had my ‘moment’ and it felt pretty sore, but I managed to carry one to the end.
"In race one, I lost contact with the leaders and then had a bit of a grip problem for the last four or five laps and couldn’t get out of the corners as fast as I wanted. We made some little suspension changes- just a few clicks here and there – for race two and the bike was definitely better to ride."
Sylvain Guintoli (Race 1: 10th, Race 2: 7th) Says: "Generally the weekend has ended not so badly. I enjoyed the second race because I was involved in a really good fight with Nori Haga and Tom Sykes. I managed to pass Nori right towards the end, but then I made a very small mistake in the last turn and he got me back.
"Seventh is not so bad after how the weekend began, but I have learnt that I – or me and my team – have to manage practice and qualifying better and get into a good, consistent rhythm as soon as we can. Not doing that means a low grid position and this Championship has so many good riders and bikes that you cannot afford to be way down the grid if you want to be a contender."
"I think I probably could’ve got fifth today if it hadn’t been for a crash right in front of me on the opening lap. I had to take avoiding action and go straight on at the first chicane and lost time in the process. But I fought hard and caught up the guys ahead, before my good battle with Tom and Nori. I am happy with my performance in race two and now I want to build on that and be much better at the start of a race weekend."
Monza World SBK Results
Race 1: 1 Max Biaggi (ITA-Aprilia), 2 James Toseland (GBR-Yamaha), 3 Cal Crutchlow (GBR-Yamaha), 4 Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare), 5 Leon Camier (GBR-Aprilia), 6 Ruben Xaus (ESP-BMW). 10 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare).
Race 2: 1 Biaggi, 2 Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare), 3 Corser (AUS-BMW), 4 Camier, 5 Tom Sykes (GBR-Kawasaki), 6 Noriyuki Haga (JPN-Ducati), 7 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare).
World Superbike Championship Points: 1 Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzzzuki Alstare) 181, 2 Biaggi 178, 3 Rea 110, 4 Checa 110, 5 Toseland 106, 6 Haga 100. 9 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare) 70.