Haslam strengthens championship lead!

26 June 2016

JG Speedfit Kawasaki this weekend extended their MCE British Superbike Championship lead after Leon Haslam took his third win of the season, moving onto 128 points. Team mates James Ellison and Peter Hickman had an equally successful weekend with two solid point scoring rides on Sunday, including a second place for James Ellison in a very wet race two.

All three riders made it into qualifying on Saturday, after working hard on the setups of their respective machines in the free practice sessions. The final free practice session was run in damp conditions, however ahead of the qualifying session the track dried.

Q1 was a breeze for the JG Speedfit Kawasaki trio, however prior to Q2 the heavens opened forcing a major stoppage to proceedings. After an hour break the dash for pole resumed with Haslam, Ellison and Hickman all looking strong. At the end of the 12 minute second session both Leon and Hicky proceeded into Q3 in third and fifth, however James dropped out by three tenths of a second leaving him in tenth for Sunday’s first race.

The track started to dry for Q3 and the times started to tumble, Leon chipped away at his time and so did Pete, however it wasn’t enough to take pole position, with Leon ending up in third and on the front row with Hicky just behind in fourth.

Race one on Sunday saw all three riders get great starts from the lights with Leon running in second place, Peter in third and James battling to get into the top ten. The ‘Pocket Rocket’ then made his move on the race leader Jason O’Halloran to take the lead.

After a safety car Haslam then started to battle with Dan Linfoot who made his way forward, Leon fought hard and made his way back past and held off the Honda Racing man to take his third win of the 2016 MCE British Superbike season.

Team mates Peter Hickman and James Ellison battled hard throughout the race with Hicky crossing the line in fifth and James seventh after fighting his way back from as far down as 15th at one point.

Unfortunately race two would see Leon and Pete drop in grid position after their lap times posted in race one, with James moving up the grid to seventh.

Race two saw the rain fall an hour before the lights went out, and from the start all three riders got a great jump and moved through the pack with Leon leading the race after lap three. However then visor issues hampered the Championship leader, meaning he was having to ride cautious and crossed the line in sixth, but he still remains top of the title battle.

It was a different story for James Ellison who took to the podium after riding hard through the pack in the rain and mist. The Kendal man moved up to third in the final few laps after posting the fastest lap of the race in search of Dan Linfoot, and on the run up to the line Ellison nicked second place off of the Honda Racing man on the line.

Peter Hickman had an equally great race in difficult conditions, battling hard and at one point he ran in a podium position until he dropped back in to the pack, finishing just in front of team mate Leon Haslam in fifth position.

After the weekend a pleased Team Owner Mark Smith Halvorsen said: “We had a chat before the start of the race and we knew Shakey and the Ducati had good pace in the wet, and I said to Leon if you have to give away five or ten points then fine, but don’t give it all away. Leon had the pace to stay with them right till the end but he had really bad visor misting issues, and he’s not happy about it.

“But fantastic rides from both Pete and James in particular, there was some bumping and barging in the second race but he came through and his pace at the end was fantastic and he beat Dan on the drag to the line. So overall in tight working conditions and lots of inclement weather this weekend I’m really proud of the way the team has worked and the results off the back of that.”

Walking away with a 13-point advantage in the Championship Leon Haslam said: “We’ve extended the Championship lead over this weekend, but for me it should have been a very easy second win. With ten to 12 laps to go I couldn’t see anything I dropped nearly three to four seconds a lap at the end, it wasn’t anything to do with the bike it was purely because I couldn’t see.

“I felt good, I felt the pace I had at the front I could have gone quicker at any point but I just couldn’t see. I’m feeling pretty confident heading into Snetterton, I have a test in between in Japan but we will take the positives from this weekend.”

A delighted James Ellison said: “I’m peaking with that, I was peaking when I was in third but Brands Hatch was flashing back in my mind and I was pushing as hard as I could anyway. Dan looked like he was out of reach for second place but like every race I gave 100 percent till the last lap and it paid off.

“I’m really happy to get the second, I gave it more throttle than normal over the line the bike was spinning and when the thing hooked it threw the front wheel up in the air and I just didn’t want to roll off. I’m really happy.”

A smiling Peter Hickman said: “Its been a really good weekend, my best results at Knockhill, we were less than one tenth off the lap record in practice, I did all my laps by myself which was a really good thing. We went a completely different way with the setup for this weekend, more like I would in the rain than Leon and James do and straight away it was the right choice. I’m really happy, I felt we should have been on the podium in race one but things weren’t quite right. Maybe if I was little braver in race two earlier on I could have been stuck in there a little bit more but I’m happy. The team have done a mega job and I can’t thank them enough.”

The final points standings see Leon Haslam lead the MCE British Superbike Championship on 128 points, James Ellison sits fifth on 89 points with Peter Hickman in eighth position on 74 points. 

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