JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam clinched maximum points in the opening MCE British Superbike race at Assen, and it was nearly a photo finish as he crossed the line practically side-by-side with title rival, Be Wiser Ducati’s Shane Byrne.
Haslam won by the tiniest of margins, and only 0.01 seconds separated the Showdown rider’s as the chequered flag came out at the TT track, and in the end the ZX-10R narrowly pipped the Panigale to the post. Now Haslam has closed the gap on Byrne to 22 points in the overall standings. JG Speedfit Kawasaki's James Ellison finished two seconds behind the leading pair, and completed the Dutch podium.
The track temperatures were a tad cooler this afternoon and all the rider’s opted for the harder SC1 rear tyre. Most rode with the softer SC1 front compounds, expect Haslam, Linfoot and Hopkins who decided to run with the SC2 harder front Pirelli’s.
Initially it was Ellison who got the hole-shot with Byrne and Mossey in tow, but new dad Mossey got into the lead a lap later, but the Quattro Plant bike’s advantage at the front was not going to last as Ellison re-took the lead going into Hoge Heide.
Mossey’s mistake meant that he slipped back to third, and had Haslam breathing down his leathers. Further up the field Ellison had to contend with the charges from Byrne. Former World Superbike contender, Haslam got the better of Mossey to go into third at Haarbocht and while all that was going on Byrne made his move on Ellison to go into the lead at Ossebroeken.
On lap eight of eighteen Haslam gained a resurgence in form and out-paced his team-mate to slot into second with Byrne as his next target. Two rotations later Haslam decided to pounce at De Bult and Ellison followed suit with the two JG Speedfit ZX-10R’s leading the way.
The pair diced for the provisional number one spot on the podium, with Byrne joining in the mix. Elsewhere Tyco BMW’s Michael Laverty gained some phenomenal pace and soared into fifth on lap twelve. Byrne was not giving up and at Geert Timmer retook the lead from title fighter, Haslam and the battle for 25 points began to hot up on track.
Honda Racing’s Dan Linfoot was holding on to fourth with five rotations remaining and was chasing down Ellison for that final podium spot. On lap fifteen the duelling duo pulled away slightly from Ellison and the lead changed between the Showdown contenders.
Meanwhile further down the pack, Honda Racing’s Jason O’Halloran regained his good form and was matching the speeds of fellow Fireblade rider, Linfoot and the Aussie was up to sixth on the penultimate lap. On the same rotation Haslam made an over-taking move that stuck on Byrne at Haarbocht and had to fight off the advances of the multiple-champ.
On the final lap it went down to the wire and Haslam took a narrow, but important victory in race one. Ellison crossed the finishing line two seconds later to complete the rostrum.
Linfoot edged his team-mate O’Halloran to finish in fourth and fifth respectively, with Laverty now leading the Riders Cup campaign after a solid sixth. At the chequered flag Mossey slipped back to seventh with Buildbase BMW’s Richard Cooper, and the ePayMe Yamaha machine’s of Broc Parkes and John Hopkins completing the top ten. Irwin, Iddon, McConnell, Smith and Jackson were the last of the points finishers.