WSB: Haslam stuns with wildcard rostrum
Leon Haslam has described his return to the Superbike World Champship podium as a ‘dream come true’ after a disastrous morning saw him crash out of qualifying at Donington Park.
The British Superbike series leader had impressed on Friday to go third fastest in the opening session, but after missing Saturday morning’s action due to a wet track the JG Speedfit-backed Puccetti team took a wrong direction for qualifying leaving Haslam slower than he’d been the day before.
Pushing hard, Haslam crashed out of contention at Craner curves leaving him to start the race from the third row of the grid.
However, an aggressive start saw Haslam fighting at the front from the off to sit in a strong fourth at the point when Chaz Davies crashed out of the lead. Having already consolidated his podium finish so long as he finished, Haslam backed off and would then further benefit when Jonathan Rea crashed out at Craner curves.
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“It’s a dream come true really,” Haslam told MCN after the race. “It was a steep learning curve on Friday, but it went really well as we ended up P3 ahead of the Ducatis on an old tyre. We bedded some pads in this morning and then the rain came, but then in qualifying I did a 1’28.2 which is slower than what I’d done on the used tyre, then I put in a Q and went even slower!
“I ended up crashing as I was pushing too hard, so it was a disastrous morning really. We went back to everything we’d had on Friday afternoon, but we weren’t that confident it would work as the track temperature was lower. It was a bit of an unknown race and I knew I had to be aggressive on the first few laps to try and hang in there.
“The feeling was better but there’s still a few areas we want to improve on. Chaz and Jonny both crashing allowed me a second, but if they’d have stayed on I’d have been happy with how it went.”