Leon Haslam bagged his first podium for the Pata Honda team, his 29th in total during the second World Superbike race at Magny-Cours in wet and cloudy conditions, and the Brit could not be happier.
It has been a long time coming for the Smalley racer who last made it on to the rostrum two years ago at Misano, but he out-paced reigning champion, Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes to take third afternoon.
The 31-year-old, who finished sixth in the first 19-lap race, made some positive changes to his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade for race two, in which he engaged in a prolonged battle with the Huddersfield rider.
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 storm home with some valuable points.
“It’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,” said Haslam at the track.
“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.”
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