BSB: Haslam leads JG Speedfit Kawasaki 1-2 in opening race
Leon Haslam took a dominant victory in the opening race of the 2017 MCE British Superbike Championship at Donington Park this afternoon.
The 2016 runner-up capitalised on the absence of rival Shane Byrne, who was forced to sit out of the opening encounter after suffering a concussion following a crash in morning warm-up, to open his 2017 account with 25 points.
The McAMS Yamaha of James Ellison took the lead in the opening laps, pulling a gap on the JG Speedfit Kawasakis of Haslam and team-mate Luke Mossey in the early stages.
However, visibly struggling with grip on corner entry, Ellison would soon drop back with Haslam taking the lead. The Yamaha man held on to third for a while before dropping further back.
Mossey took a strong second, almost three seconds up the road from third-placed Christian Iddon, who got the better of Smiths BMW’s Peter Hickman in the closing stages.
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Ellison would eventually finish fifth despite a late challenge from Josh Brookes, with the Aussie dropping back to seventh after almost running out of fuel on the opening lap. Glenn Irwin finished just ahead in sixth.
Michael Laverty was eighth despite a strong mid-race showing, ahead of Jake Dixon and Honda’s Jason O’Halloran.
It was a tough race for Bennetts Suzuki with the new GSX-R as both Sylvain Guintoli and Taylor Mackenzie crashed out of the race. Pushing on, Guintoli tucked the front into the Fogarty esses while Mackenzie also lost the front end after taking evasive action to avoid the Quattro Plant FS-3 Kawasaki of Billy McConnell, who also crashed.
John Hopkins retired from the race, while Bradley Ray on the Buildbase Suzuki was forced to miss his debut BSB outing after a technical issue on the warm-up lap.