BSB: Haslam wins thrilling Assen opener
Leon Haslam took victory in a tantalising opening MCE British Superbike race at Assen, holding off title rival Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne to claim a crucial five points as the championship battle heats up.
It was Haslam’s JG Speedfit team-mate James Ellison who took the lead in the early stages before Quattro Plant Kawasaki man Luke Mossey charged to the front, but title leader Byrne was on the charge with Haslam close behind.
As the duo hit the front, it was Haslam that took the lead in the first instance with Mossey between them, but Byrne was soon past as the battle got underway.
A three-way scrap ensued between the two title protagonists and Ellison, but with Haslam controlling the pace at the front, he opted to slow things down to get other riders in the mix hoping to maximise the points gap should he beat Byrne.
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However, the duo eeked away from the chasing pack towards the end of the race. Byrne had moved past to take the lead on the 12th lap, but Haslam was imperiously strong in to turn one. However, each time he’d pass the Ducati, Byrne was able to hold the tighter line to retain the lead until lap 17.
Inseparable on the final lap, Byrne wasn’t quite close enough to make a pass at the final turn but a strong drive out of the chicane gave him a chance – finishing just 0.01 behind his Team Green rival.
Ellison completed the podium despite a late race attack from Dan Linfoot, who ended up scrapping with team-mate Jason O’Halloran on the final lap. Michael Laverty showed a return to form with sixth place ahead of early race leader Mossey.
Richard Cooper took eighth for Buildbase BMW while ePay Me Yamaha’s Broc Parkes and John Hopkins rounded out the top ten.