Leon Haslam took his first podium for the Pata Honda team - his 29th in total - in the second of Sunday’s two wet eleventh round World Superbike championship races at Magny-Cours in France.
The 31-year-old British rider, who finished sixth in the first 19-lap race at the 4.411km French circuit, made some positive changes to his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade for race two, in which he engaged in a prolonged battle with reigning world champion Tom Sykes.
Having caught Sykes with seven laps to go, Haslam tried everything to get by, eventually riding around the outside of his rival at turn seven with two laps remaining to take a fantastic podium for him and his team.
It was the team’s second podium of the day after Jonathan Rea finished third in race one. Having taken an early lead, Rea found it difficult to apply his CBR’s power to the slippery Magny-Cours circuit and the 27-year-old dropped behind eventual race winner Sylvain Guintoli and second-placed Marco Melandri.
Rea stormed into the lead again in the early laps of race two and had settled into a comfortable rhythm before becoming one of no fewer than 13 riders caught out by the treacherous Magny-Cours surface and crashing out unhurt at turn seven.
The World Superbike championship now breaks for four weeks before the final round of the series at the Losail circuit in Qatar on 2 November.
Leon Haslam - 6th and 3rdIt’s been a tough two seasons, with a leg break last year and a few other problems I’ve been having, so a big thanks to the team, to Pata and to Honda who’ve stood by me. I’ve managed to repay them with a podium so I’m over the moon. We had our share of issues over the weekend, first in Superpole and in the second part of race one when I lost all straight line grip. But the boys made some changes for race two and it was definitely a step forward, although I still suffered a bit in the same area. It was also quite difficult starting from the fourth row of the grid because I couldn’t really see anything for the first few laps. By the time I got past a few guys the leaders had already gone. But I was really happy to beat Tom in the end – it was one thing getting to him but quite another getting by. I passed him the first time on the brakes but started wheel-spinning and lost all my drive. I felt that I had a lot better pace than him but he was being really defensive. I lost both wheels trying to go outside him at turn three and then tried again at the hairpin and ran wide. I was running out of laps though so to get by him and then open a gap made me quite happy. We can go to Doha in a month’s time a little happier now.
Jonathan Rea - 3rd and DNFIt’s been a day of two halves really. Race one went OK although I really struggled with the power character in the wet today. It seems like Magny-Cours has just got really slippery in recent years and today’s conditions really highlighted that problem. It was satisfying to get on the podium but I wanted to give a little bit more to try and win. So for race two my team gave me some good changes but we didn’t quite solve the problem. I was still struggling in some areas but I was able to get to the front and this time just stay in a really good rhythm. Unfortunately, from the data we can see that, in turn five and six, I went through on a closed throttle as opposed to partially opened, and that was enough to have the engine braking kick in and bring the rear round. It came round so fast, I had no chance to save it and it’s frustrating to get my first DNF of the year. One of my main targets was to finish all races this season but, speaking to the team’s technical co-ordinator and my crew chief, the target was to get to the front and go for the win this afternoon. I crashed at the front trying to win the race so I can’t be too hard on myself.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinatorWe were relatively fast with both guys in warm-up this morning but the pace in race one was a lot faster which threw up a couple of settings issues. Jonathan got a satisfying podium in race one, while Leon had to fight back from a slow start which left him quite a gap so he ended up sixth. We changed the settings for both guys in race two and we improved. This was clear when Jonathan took off and held on to the lead for the first half of the race. Unfortunately he pushed a little too hard and crashed out but this can happen when you give it all to go for the win. Leon had a much better start in race two and that put him in a position to fight for the places that matter. He was racing with Sykes for a long time, fighting for third and in a great manoeuvre he took that final podium place. We are all so happy for him and hi s team that he got finally there. It’s been a tough couple of seasons and I’m really pleased for them all.
Race 1 Results - 4.411km - 19 laps1 Sylvain Guintoli 36m45.206s FRA APRILIA Aprilia Racing Team2 Marco Melandri +2.257s ITA APRILIA Aprilia Racing Team3 Jonathan Rea +5.954s GBR HONDA Pata Honda4 Tom Sykes +15.670s GBR KAWASAKI Kawasaki Racing Team5 Loris Baz +16.149s FRA KAWASAKI Kawasaki Racing Team6 Leon Haslam +29.411s GBR HONDA Pata Honda7 Davide Guigliano +57.319s ITA DUCATI Ducati Superbike Team8 Lorenzo Lanzi +59.306s ITA DUCATI 3C Racing Team9 Max Neukirchner +1m12.274s GER DUCATI 3C Racing Team10 Sylvain Barrier +1m22.931s FRA BMW BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team* Race 2 Results - 4.411km - 19 laps1 Marco Melandri 36m25.402s ITA APRILIA Aprilia Racing Team2 Sylvain Guintoli +2.669s FRA APRILIA Aprilia Racing Team3 Leon Haslam +16.450s GBR HONDA Pata Honda4 Tom Sykes +20.759s GBR KAWASAKI Kawasaki Racing Team5 Lorenzo Lanzi +46.689s ITA DUCATI 3C Racing Team6 Max Neukirchner +58.490s GER DUCATI 3C Racing Team7 Loris Baz +1m03.100s FRA KAWASAKI Kawasaki Racing Team8 Claudio Corti +1m24.699s ITA MV MV Agusta RC9 Chaz Davies +1m27.899s GBR DUCATI Ducati Superbike Team10 Niccolo Canepa +1m51.706s ITA DUCATI Althea Racing
Championship Standings1 Tom Sykes 378 pts GBR KAWASAKI Kawasaki Racing Team2 Sylvain Guintoli 366 pts FRA APRILIA Aprilia Racing Team3 Marco Melandri 312 pts ITA APRILIA Aprilia Racing Team4 Jonathan Rea 301 pts GBR HONDA Pata Honda5 Loris Baz 282 pts FRA KAWASAKI Kawasaki Racing Team6 Chaz Davies 195 pts GBR DUCATI Ducati Superbike Team7 Leon Haslam 176 pts GBR HONDA Pata Honda8 Davide Guigliano 162 pts ITA DUCATI Ducati Superbike Team9 Eugene Laverty 154 pts IRL SUZUKI Voltcom Crescent Suzuki10 Toni Elias 151 pts ESP APRILIA Red Devils Roma