Haslam doubles up at season opener of Donington
Leon Haslam got his MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship season off to a flying start at Donington Park by claiming the opening victory of the season ahead of his JG Speedfit Kawasaki team-mate Luke Mossey and Tyco BMW’s Christian Iddon. As the race got underway James Ellison fired himself straight to the front of the pack as they reaches Redgate for the first time ahead of Haslam, Mossey and Josh Brookes on the Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha.
As the pack reached the Old Hairpin Mossey and Brookes touched, pushing the Australian down to ninth on the opening lap and ready to make a fight back. At the front Ellison was holding the lead but Haslam was piling on the pressure but it wasn’t until the seventh lap when the ‘Pocket Rocket’ could make the move stick. Mossey was also shadowing the pair and followed his team-mate into second place, nudging Ellison back into third.
It was a disappointing return for Sylvain Guintoli when the Bennetts Suzuki rider crashed on the tenth lap at the Esses, followed by Billy McConnell who also suffered a crash in the opening race. At the front the JG Speedfit Kawasaki pairing held the leading two positions but the battle was hotting up for the final podium position as Ellison dropped back into the clutches of Peter Hickman, Iddon, Brookes and Laverty.
Hickman was the first to make an attack at Melbourne on Ellison, giving Iddon the chance to also move ahead. The Tyco BMW was stalking Hickman for third, leaving it until the closing stages to make a lunge into the Esses to move third and claim the final podium position. Hickman held off Ellison as Glenn Irwin got the better of Brookes on the final lap to claim sixth with Laverty, Jake Dixon and Jason O'Halloran completing the top ten.
Leon Haslam had the perfect start to his 2017 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship season, claiming a double race win for JG Speedfit Kawasaki at his home circuit of Donington Park, but he was pushed all the way by Josh Brookes on his return to the series. Brookes fired off the pole position into the lead on the opening lap and as the pack streamed down Craner Curves for the first time the Australian was fighting off Haslam, Luke Mossey and Michael Laverty on the leading McAMS Yamaha.
Laverty was attacking Mossey, moving to third on the second lap ahead of Mossey and a closing James Ellison, but the race ended prematurely for the leading McAMS Yamaha when he suffered a technical problem and was forced to retire. At the front Ellison had moved into third behind the battling Brookes and Haslam but on the eighth lap the local hero took a look over his shoulder as he crossed the start line, giving Ellison the chance to make a pass into Redgate.
A lap later though and Haslam was on the counterattack; jamming his way ahead of his former team-mate as the leading pair of Brookes and Haslam began to edge an advantage. Haslam was shadowing Brookes and with five laps to go he made his move at the Esses and was able to hold off his Australian rival to the finish. However behind the battle for third had intensified with Glenn Irwin storming his way through the pack to close in on the trio of Mossey, Iddon and Ellison.
Irwin saved his best for last, making his moves count over the final two laps and despite a huge last lap duel with race one podium finisher Iddon, he was able to claim his first podium finish of the season to the jubilation of the Be Wiser Ducati team.