Leon Haslam finally broke his Snetterton duck as he stormed to today’s opening Bennetts British Superbike race win.
The JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider denied Glenn Irwin the top spot in a dramatic scrap that saw four riders taken out at the second corner and early race leader Bradley Ray crashing out.
Buildbase Suzuki’s Ray took advantage of his pole position and nabbed the holeshot ahead of Glenn Irwin, who jumped up to second off the line ahead of Josh Brookes, but disaster struck for four riders just two corners into the first lap.
Rookie Andrew Irwin made a move up the inside at Wilson’s, but caught out both Honda Racing riders Dan Linfoot and Jason O’Halloran, as well as Tyco BMW’s Michael Laverty, leaving all four on the floor and out of the race as the safety car was sent out.
When it came in at the start of lap three, Ray was straight back out in front ahead of Irwin and Brookes as he stretched a lead of nearly a second.
But Irwin reeled the Buildbase Suzuki rider back in over the next few laps and by half distance, the Be Wiser Ducati rider had just 0.074s to make up.
Back in 10th, Luke Mossey’s race went from bad to worse as he looked to lose his brakes at Oggie’s, forcing him to ditch the ZX10RR.
At the head of the pack, Irwin’s fight was made significantly easier, however, when Donington double-winner Ray lost the front at Agostini’s on lap 10, leaving the Northern Irishman easy pickings to take the lead.
As Irwin hit the front, Haslam was busy slicing his way through the pack and had already passed Josh Brookes for third when Ray crashed, promoting him to second 2.5s down on Irwin.
But the former World Superbike rider halved his deficit on lap 11 and by lap 12 he had just 0.5s to go, moving into the lead with two laps remaining with a move on Irwin at the Bombhole.
In the fight for third, RAF Regular & Reserves’ Jake Dixon tried to out-brake McAMS Yamaha man Brookes at Brundle, but instead ran on and had to rejoin, again in fourth.
Back at the front, Irwin couldn’t make any more headway on Haslam and had to settle for a runner-up finish as he missed out on his first win by just 0.407s.
Just behind, Dixon went up the inside of the Aussie at Coram before Brookes hit straight back at Murray’s, only to lose out to Dixon by less than two tenths of a second at the line.
FS-3 Racing Kawasaki’s Danny Buchan nabbed fifth, ahead of Tarran Mackenzie and TT superstar Peter Hickman. Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha’s James Ellison, Christian Iddon and Richard Cooper rounded out the top ten.