JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam crossed the finishing line in the opening MCE British Superbike race of the season with a five second advantage over team-mate Luke Mossey and leads the way after his race-one win today at Donington Park which saw reigning champion Shane Byrne ruled out by concussion.
The Smalley rider started on pole but McAMS Yamaha’s James Ellison made sure that Haslam did not have it all his own way in the early stages. The real fight on track was for third, and in the end the final podium position went to Tyco BMW’s Christian Iddon, with Mossey holding on to second.
Initially it was Ellison who got the holeshot followed by Haslam and Mossey. Josh Brookes was in the leading group, only to be punted by Mossey at the Old Hairpin and slipped down to ninth.
On lap six Laverty began to make his way up the field, and went into fourth after making a clean move on Hickman at the Esses. Meanwhile at Schwantz Curve with eight laps completed Haslam overtook Ellison to take the lead for the first time, with Mossey following suit on the Yamaha at the Melbourne Hairpin to take second.
Former World Superbike champ Sylvain Guintoli was inside the top ten in ninth, just in front of former WSBK racer, Davide Giugliano but on the half way mark fell at the Esses. The Frenchman appeared fine at the side of the track, and even tried to remount the Suzuki, but then realised rider’s can not get back on the bike after a crash - as it is BSB rules.
Elsewhere Laverty went wide and dropped back two places, and the Wales-based rider fell into the grasps of Brookes, who was fighting hard to overtake the likes of Iddon and Hickman on lap 13.
Haslam decided to opt for the SC1 front and rear, with Ellison going for the SC1 front and SC0 rear Pirelli tyres, and with five laps remaining it looked like Ellison may have had an issue with tyre wear as he was getting caught by Hickman and Iddon. Mossey opted for the SC1’s, the same as Haslam.
At the Melbourne loop BMW power got the better of the R1 of Ellison with Hickman and Iddon slipping past Ellison and into the top five on lap 17. Brookes had the SC1 front and SC0 rear compounds, the same as fellow Yamaha rider Ellison, and at Melbourne Brookes got an advantage as the McAMS bike went wide, with Brookes going into fifth, with three laps left. Brookes will start on pole for race two as he set the fastest lap during the race.
Ellison was not down and out, as he found some extra power and at the Loop got past Brookes to cross the line in fifth. Be Wiser Ducati’s Glenn Irwin gained pace on the penultimate lap and passed Brookes as the chequered flag appeared to go sixth. Brookes, Laverty, Dixon and O’Halloran were the top ten finishers. Honda Racing’s Jason O’Halloran and Dan Linfoot were never in podium contention throughout the race, and ended racce one in P10 and P11 respectively.
One rider who was missing from proceedings, was reigning champion Be Wiser Ducati’s Shane Byrne. He was declared unfit following an earlier warm-up crash as he has concussion. Rookie, Bradley Ray did not start the race due to a technical issue. Ray was not the only rider to retire, Moto Rapido Ducati’s John Hopkins came to a stop a quarter of the way through the race, and retreated to the pits after an issue with his Panigale.
Bennetts Suzuki’s Taylor Mackenzie crashed unhurt at the Melbourne Hairpin and seconds later on lap nine Billy McConnell high-sided at Goddards. Bridewell, BSB debutant, Davide Giugliano, Smrz and Winfield were the last of the points finishers.