Team Suzuki Alstare rider Leon Haslam suffered the ups and downs of racing in the seventh round of this year’s Superbike World Championship at the Miller Motorsports Park in America as teammate Sylvain Guintoli raced to his best season-result since the opening round.
Haslam took a hard-fought-for runner-up spot in the first race – watched by a crowd of 55,000 – and then had battled up to sixth place in race two after a poor start, but was then high-sided from his GSX-R1000 and crashed out of the race.
He got a lift back to the pits and then went to the Clinica Mobile where he had 17 stitches put into his left arm just above his elbow. Fortunately he suffered no other injuries and will be fit for the next round in Misano towards the end of June.
Guintoli had his best race day of the year since the opening round in Australia in February: He battled for eighth in race one and then took sixth in race two.
Carlos Checa (Ducati) was in position to win both races, but two retirements (DNFs) when he had been comfortably in the lead, ruined the Spaniard’s hopes of glory.
His misfortune was Max Biaggi’s gain, as once Checa pulled out, the Italian was able to race to the flag unchallenged and take his third double of the season and leapfrog Haslam in the standings.
Leon Haslam (Race 1: 2nd, Race 2: DNF) says: "Obviously I am very disappointed how the day ended. Crashing out is bad enough, but losing the Championship Title lead is another. I always knew that today was going to be very hard and the races proved that. I was fortunate to get second place in race one and unfortunate to crash in race two. Carlos Checa should’ve won both races and I feel a bit sorry for him. He had led both, but then had to pull out. As a result, Max got lucky, but racing is like that sometimes.
"I didn’t make particularly good starts today and maybe that caused some of the problems. In race one; I was right behind Jakub Smrz when his Ducati blew up. I and the front of my Suzuki got covered in oil and I tried to use a different line to him so that I wouldn’t crash on his oil. I think I was stuck behind him for over a lap, but luckily he pulled off the track and I was able to get my head down and chase after the leaders. I moved through the field and got into third and happy with that until Carlos stopped and I was gifted second.
"I was 10th at the end of the first lap in race two and once again I had a lot of work to do to catch the leaders. I managed to get up to sixth after seven laps, but then the bike suddenly let go at one of the hairpins and I was highsided. I had a load of stitches put into my left arm, just above the elbow, but I will be OK for Misano."
Sylvain Guintoli (Race 1: 8th, Race 2: 6th) says: "Today was a much better day for me and I am happy because I think I managed to find a good rhythm and race pace – all this on my first time at this track. I had some little clutch problems in race one and starting from way down the grid is never easy, so I don’t think eighth was too bad considering.
"My pace in the second race was a lot better and I enjoyed fighting with the other riders as I moved up the field. Today was my best result since Australia and it’s about time I got back to being competitive. Now I want to build on this, keep up the good work; and push hard right from the first practice in the next round and so be in a better place on the grid at the start of Raceday."
Salt Lake City World SBK Results:
WSBK Race 1: 1 Biaggi (ITA-Aprilia), 2 Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare), 3 Haga (JPN-Ducati), 4 Camier (GBR-Aprilia), 5 Corser (AUS-BMW), 6 Byrne (GBR-Ducati). 8 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare)))).
WSBK Race 2: 1 Biaggi, 2 Camier, 3 Crutchlow (GBR-Yamaha), 4 Haga, 5 Corser, 6 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare). Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare) DNF.
Superbike Championship Title Points: 1 Biaggi 242, 2 Leon Haslam (GBR-Suzuki Alstare) 232, 3 Rea 143, 4 Checa 141, 5 Toseland 132, 6 Haga 122, 11 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA-Suzuki Alstare) 95.