Two wins in round 3 for JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam has propelled him into the top spot of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship this weekend.
A solid session at Oulton Park on Sunday 6th May led to Leon and team-mate Luke Mossey qualifying in fourth and sixth respectively for Monday’s opening 18-lap race and Leon made a great start to slot into second behind Jake Dixon with Luke completing the first lap in eighth. The next few laps saw both Glenn Irwin and Peter Hickman crash out and that helped promote Luke up to sixth.
However, on lap seven, the Royston rider crashed out at Druids and that left Leon to fly the team’s flag which he did so valiantly around the 2.69-mile circuit. Indeed, he took over the lead on that same seventh lap and although Dixon was never more than half a second behind, the Derbyshire rider duly came through to take his second win of the season.
It meant Leon was able to start the second race from pole position with Luke, none the worse for his earlier spill apart from a bruised wrist, in eighth. It followed a similar pattern to the first with Leon sitting comfortably in third before making his move as the race progressed although on this occasion it took him until the 12thlap before taking over the race lead.
He was under pressure this time from Honda’s Jason O’Halloran but, just as he had done in race one, he was able to keep his rival at bay and crossed the line for his second win of the day and his 34thBSB win in total. Luke was again out of luck though as he was forced to retire with a brake problem on just the third lap.
The weekend’s results mean that Leon now leads the championship after three rounds with a total of 115 points, 14 clear of closest rival Bradley Ray. Luke, meanwhile, has slipped back to 14th.
In addition to securing his place at the top of the championship table, Leon was also awarded the Dickies Rider of the Day accolade.
Portsmouth-born Ricky Stevens and Ryan Charlwood from Dover were also in action in the Hyundai Construction Equipment British Sidecar Championship race and, after taking fourth in qualifying, the duo were able to claim an excellent third place overall for their first podium finish of the season. To add to their joy, they were also the first of the Formula Two contenders across the line.
Leon Haslam said: “It’s been a really good weekend, I had the fastest lap in race one, two race wins, pole position, the Championship lead and most podium credits, I couldn’t really ask for more than that.
“I am over the moon, everyone worked hard this weekend and we made the soft tyre work for us. I had good pace all the way to the last lap, which is really important.
“There are still areas I’d like to improve, but for this weekend it couldn’t have gone any better for us.”
Luke Mossey said: “It’s been a really disheartening weekend, it was a struggle to find a set-up for me at Oulton during the practice sessions but the team worked hard to make me feel comfortable.
“Come race one I was happy, I knew I didn’t have the pace for the front-runners, but I felt happy with the lap times I was doing. Everything felt to be going quite well and the front just tucked on me into one of the fastest corners on the track. Thankfully despite being a bit bruised there was no major damage.
“The team worked hard to get the bike fixed for race two but I suffered a brake problem early on and was forced to pull in the pits. I hope to get some testing done between now and Snetterton and re-group for there and come back stronger.”
Charlwood said: “We were really looking forward to Oulton Park following Le Mans and free practice went well. We were disappointed with qualifying, where we were aiming for a third finish, but ended up in fourth.
“We had a bad start to the race, but were pleased with the pace, but despite a red flag – which cost us a place – we were pleased to finish third and get on the podium.
“Thanks to the team, our sponsors, families and fans for their support. We’ve finished this weekend on a high!”
Team Manager Jack Valentine added: “It was a great weekend for Leon and the team. The team worked really hard to ensure we could run the SC0 for a full race distance while achieving the lap times we did. I was confident to come away with two podiums but to get the double race win is even better.
“I’m pleased to see Luke coming on again and running some quick lap times. Unfortunately he had a crash in race one and then a spongy brake in race two and he was forced to retire. It was a technical problem we could have done without but onwards and upwards to the Snetterton test now.
“We are going into the break with the championship lead not only in points but also podium credits which is the main thing. There will be some hard work going on between now and Snetterton to make sure this form continues.”
The team now turn their attention to the International road races with James Hillier contesting the North West 200, which takes place on the streets of Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush in Northern Ireland, from 15thto 19thMay.