After Leon Haslam, the Team Suzuki Alstare SBK rider, raced to third place in the opening race, in front of 54,000 spectators, race two was particularly dramatic and action-packed; and one of the best battles of the season so far: Throughout the race the points leader fought tooth and nail with fellow countryman Jonathan Rea (Honda), with Haslam taking the lead several times only to get overtaken again.
The motorcycle racing battle went right down to the wire; Haslam making an audacious passing move one lap from the end.
This time he made it stick and went on to take the chequered flag by half a second put Suzuki back at the top of the Manufacturer Standings.
It was his third win and ninth podium of the season and one of hardest victories of his career.
Leon Haslam extended his World Superbike Championship lead to 15 points after a thrilling victory in the second race at Kyalami in South Africa today.
Teammate Sylvain Guintoli endured another average day at the office and ended with 10th in race one and 15th in race two. It was the Frenchman’s first visit to Kyalami and one that he will not remember with much fondness.
Leon Haslam (Race 1: 3rd, Race 2: 1st says: "What an amazing day! The second race was one of the best races I’ve ever been involved in and definitely one of the hardest. Jonny and I had a real ding-dong and it was bar-to-bar stuff for almost the whole race. I passed him a few times, but he always got me back and the longer the race went on I could feel him working out where I’d pass and how he’d stop me. In the end, I had to pass at a different place and this time I made it stick and held on to the flag. To win a race like that is quite an emotional thing and I have to give a big thank you to the whole team for all their work this weekend.
"The bike in the second race was an improvement over race one. We had a few issues in race one, so changed the balance by making a bit lower in the front and higher in the rear. I still had some issues with it, but it was better and allowed me to fight for the win. After the drama of race two, it’s hard to remember what happened in race one. I didn’t get a good start and had to make up a lot of ground as best I could. I wasn’t completely confident in the front end, so could not push hard enough to catch Michel Fabrizio and Carlos Checa, but I was happy to get on the podium. Today was a tough day, but I’m very happy to have extended my Championship lead and I’m looking forward to the next round in America."
Sylvain Guintoli (Race 1: 10th, Race 2: 15th) says: "Well today should’ve been a lot better than it turned out and I am very disappointed. The first race was not so bad, except that I lost a lot of time in two particular corners and could not catch the front guys. Ok, this is new track for me, but I think I should’ve been able to cope with it better. The second race was a disaster! I had no grip and no feeling in the brakes. I had made a good start, but Sykes touched me and I lost position. Then I started having problems with the brakes. It felt as if they had no power and that’s not a good feeling to have when you racing at high speed at a track like this. It’s been a weekend to forget and I hope that I will be able to get on the pace at the next race, though it will once again be a new track for me."
WSBK Race Results:
Race 1: 1 Fabrizio (ITA-Ducati), 2 Checa (ESP-Ducati), 3 Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare), 4 Biaggi (ITA-Aprilia), 5 Rea (GBR-Honda), 6 Camier (GBR-Aprilia). 10 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare).
Race 2: Race 2: 1 Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare), 2 Rea, 3 Biaggi, 4 Crutchlow (GBR-Yamaha), 5 Checa, 6 Toselanddd (GBR-Yamaha). 15 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare).
Championship Points: 1 Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare) 222, 2 Biaggi 207, 3 Rea 141, 4 Checa 141, 5 Toseland 125, 6 Haga 106. 11 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare) 77.
Manufacturers Standings: 1 Suzuki 222, 2 Aprilia 213, 3 Ducati 185, 4 Honda 150, 5 Yamaha 135, 6 BMW 108, 7 Kawasaki 39.