Donington Park British Superbikes: Local lad Leon Haslam wins tough battle
Local lad Leon Haslam took an enthralling race one victory at Donington Park in an extremely close race throwing the championship battle wide open once again.
The Airwaves Ducati rider was vying for the lead throughout the race and narrowly avoided a trip to the gravel trap in a heart-stopping moment with HM Plant Honda’s Jonathan Rea.
Haslam, who has grown up at the Leicestershire circuit was only 1.416sec ahead of Stobart Honda’s Tom Sykes with his teammate Shane Byrne completing the podium.
Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Walker diced into the lead going to the first corner. Jonathan Rea went second with Leon Haslam slotting in to third. Pole man Tom Sykes moved up in to the third place spot at the end of lap one.
But Airwaves Ducati’s Leon Haslam got back ahead of Sykes to claim third back before the end of lap one.
Yamaha’s Tommy Hill was the first of several retirements as he came off on lap two.
Jonathan Rea took the lead from Walker at the beginning of lap three. An on the pace Leon Haslam passed Chris Walker for second on lap four but Walker fought back to regain the place.
Chris Martin came off on lap five at Coppice corner but he was not hurt.
Leon Haslam’s battle with Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Walker continued as he regained second on lap five. Walker then found himself under the scrutiny of teammate Cal Crutchlow, who passed him pushing the veteran back to fifth.
Stobart Honda’s Tom Sykes broke the lap record with a 1:31.090 on lap seven.
HM Plant Honda’s Ryuichi Kiyonari on his way up the field broke Sykes’ new lap record on lap eight with a 1:30.899 and was the only rider to dip under the 1min 31sec mark.
By the end of lap nine Jonathan Rea only had a 0.262sec lead form Leon Haslam with the Airwaves Ducati rider practically on Rea’s back tyre.
Leon Haslam got the better of Jonathan Rea going in to the Foggy Esses on lap 12. The pair then almost tangled as HM Plant Honda’s Jonathan Rea had a huge ‘moment’ with Haslam having to brake to avoid him. Rea took to the grass almost taking himself and Haslam out of the race but Rea made it back on to the track in fifth.
Tom Sykes and Ryuichi Kiyonari were the benefactors of the Rea and Haslam moment as the pair shot in to first and second respectively.
With Haslam now realising his advantage at the Foggy Esses he chose this as the spot to take Ryuichi Kiyonari on lap 14. And just a lap later in exactly the same spot he took Tom Sykes for the lead.
On lap 15 Cal Crutchlow went to challenge Ryuichi Kiyonari for third place taking the pair of them out at Goddards. Crutchlow was okay but Kiyonari seemed to limp away from his bike.
Gregorio Lavilla did his teammate Leon Haslam a huge favour on lap 18 as he knocked Jonathan Rea down to fourth to help Haslam’s championship campaign.
The experience Shane Byrne found himself up in third by the final lap as he then chased down teammate Tom Sykes.
Donington Park British Superbikes race one results:
1. Leon Haslam GBR Airwaves Ducati 30:37.871
2. Tom Sykes GBR Stobart Honda 30:39.287
3. Shane Byrne GBR Stobart Honda 30:39.497
4. Gregorio Lavilla ESP Airwaves Ducati 30:47.085
5. Jonathan Rea IRL HM Plant Honda 30:49.905
6. Chris Walker GBR Rizla Suzuki 30:53.386
7. Scott Smart GBR Hawk Kawasaki 31:04.075
8. James Haydon GBR Hawk Kawasaki 31:06.532
9. Michael Rutter GBR Kawasaki 31:10.890
10. Steve Plater GBR AIM Yamaha 31:32.715
11. Ian Hutchinson GBR Bike Animal Honda 31:33.280
12. Tristan Palmer GBR THR Honda 31:37.225
13. Marty Nutt GBR Virgin Yamaha 31:37.488
14. Aaron Zanotti GBR Hydrex Honda 31:45.274
15. David Johnson AUS Branson Honda 31:51.559
16. Tom Tunstall GBR Ice Valley Honda 31:52.020
17. John Ingram GBR SMT Yamaha 32:00.082
18. Tommy Bridewell GBR NB Suzuki 32:04.851
19. James Buckingham GBR Honda 30:48.404
20. Malcolm Ashley GBR Kawasaki 31:34.022