JG Speedfit Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam held on to take a tight MCE British Superbike win, in the opening race at Assen, with title chaser, Be Wiser Ducati’s Shane Byrne finishing in second.
At the end of an eventful 18 lapper Haslam had a 1.9s advantage as he crossed the finishing line with an epic battle ensuing out on the Dutch track for the remaining podium spots. Five riders were in the mix and it was Byrne who grabbed second, followed closely by McAMS Yamaha’s James Ellison.
It was the best finish of the season for Bennetts Suzuki’s Sylvain Guintoli who at one point did lead the race, but he was caught out at the Geert Timmer chicane on the final lap, but still had his best race of the year ending in fourth, with showdown rider, Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha’s Josh Brookes in fifth.
Pole-man Ellison got the hole-shot ahead of Haslam and Iddon. The other showdown riders started further down the grid but by lap three Byrne was up to eighth, with Hickman, Brookes, Dixon and O’Halloran right behind him.
Meanwhile a rotation later, Guintoli put himself in podium contention and went up to third as Iddon went wide, allowing Linfoot and Ray to gain a place. When it came to tyres Haslam went for his usual harder front and rear Pirelli’s, with Byrne and Brookes deciding to go for the softer options.
Pole-sitter Ellison opted for the softer front but harder SC1 rear compounds. Guintoli was gaining pace and he was setting quick times on the SC2 front, but softer rear tyre. Meanwhile Byrne was gaining an advantage and was up to fourth on lap seven.
The Bennetts Suzuki of Guintoli made a move on Haslam on lap eight at Ramshoek, and then a lap later overtook Ellison at the Geert Timmer chicane, but as that happened Byrne overtook Haslam at Strubben, to go third, only for Haslam to fight back at Stekkenwal.
But then there was all change as going out of turn one Haslam took the lead only for Guintoli to once again regain the front at Ramshoek. While there was a four-way battle for the lead, Brookes was edging ever closer with Ray staying with the Australian.
On lap 14 of 18 Haslam then retook the advantage at Debult with Ellison, Guintoli, Byrne, Brookes and Ray all close behind. Then Ellison went back into second with Byrne third and Guintoli going back to fourth.
On the final lap Brookes got caught out by a small mistake by Guintoli, allowing Ray to go through. Then Byrne went into second going into De Bult, only Ellison to fight back with the pair dicing over the next couple of corners, with Guintoli getting into the mix at the chicane.
At the finishing line it was so close but Byrne snatched second with Ellison, Guintoli and Brookes completing the top five. Other showdown riders, Peter Hickman, Jake Dixon and Jason O’Halloran rounded off the top ten. Linfoot, Mossey, Cooper, Irwin and Bridewell were the last of the point’s finishers.
Current Pirelli National Superstock 1000 leader, Danny Buchan is riding in the place of the injured Bully McConnell on the FS-3 Kawasaki. He crashed unhurt at Ossebroeken. Tyco BMW’s Christian Iddon was inside the top ten when he crashed with five laps remaining, and that was on the entry to the chicane.
McAMS Yamaha’s Michael Laverty has been on the pace this weekend, but he was blighted by a technical problem in the opening race and had to retreat to his garage after only one lap. One rider missing from proceedings was Bennetts Suzuki’s Taylor Mackenzie. He has been ruled unfit by medical staff after a big qualifying crash yesterday where his bike smacked him in the face.