|Leon Haslam had a Bank Holiday to remember at the third round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Oulton Park today (Monday), celebrating an opening race win before following it up with a hard-fought race two victory and holding off Jason O’Halloran by just 0.086s to grab the standings lead.
In the opening race of the day Jake Dixon was the rider who grabbed the advantage in the launch off the line ahead of Haslam, Glenn Irwin and Jason O’Halloran. However, with some of the leading contenders crashing out including Irwin from third place and Peter Hickman in the early stages of the race, it soon became a two-way battle for the lead between Dixon and Haslam.
Haslam made his move on the seventh lap at Lodge to hit the front of the pack and though Dixon tried to fight back, the ‘Pocket Rocket’ had the edge, despite intense pressure from his Kawasaki rival. Dixon’s podium finish makes him the ninth different podium finisher from the opening six races ahead of the Kawasaki team’s home round at Snetterton.
Championship leader Ray was desperate to carve up the order and he made a move on O’Halloran to lead the chasing trio with Byrne also pushing to climb positions. The defending champion made a move on O’Halloran on lap 12 at Hizzys to move ahead and then he later dispensed with Ray at Lodge.
Byrne held off Ray and O’Halloran over the final five laps, as Josh Brookes moved up the order to claim sixth place for McAMS Yamaha to stay ahead of Danny Buchan and Tommy Bridewell, who bounced back from a warm-up crash.
Tarran Mackenzie and Richard Cooper completed the top ten ahead of James Ellison and the returning triple champion Ryuichi Kiyonari.
Haslam was fired up for a repeat performance in race two, but it didn’t come easily as the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider was hounded all the way by a determined O’Halloran.
At the start of the race Dixon had taken the initial advantage for the second time today ahead of Ray, Irwin and Haslam.
As Haslam moved into third, O’Halloran was also pushing hard and he moved into fourth, but the Honda Racing contender was eyeing a move on his JG Speedfit Kawasaki rival and made a dive down the inside into Old Hall on the third lap.
Ray was soon the next target for O’Halloran and the Australian moved into second at Lodge a lap later and then a move on Dixon put him into the lead, with Haslam pushing to follow in his wheel tracks.
On lap seven Haslam had moved into second with a lunge down the inside into Lodge corner to push Dixon back into third place and then hunt down O’Halloran ahead of him. The leading pack of six riders was rounded out by defending champion Byrne and he was soon ahead of Ray and pushing his Be Wiser Ducati team-mate.
At the front the leading pair had edged a gap on the field and Haslam finally was able to make a move on O’Halloran that stuck on lap 12 and despite the best efforts from O’Halloran, he was forced to settle for second after an incredibly close drag to the finish line.
Dixon had held off Byrne on the final lap to claim a double podium finish and push himself up the standings into the top six with Irwin completing the top five.
Brookes had managed to snatch sixth place away from Ray on the final lap with Buchan, Cooper and Bridewell completing the top ten. The returning Kiyonari finished in 15th place.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Oulton Park, Race 1 result:
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki)
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) +1.624s
- Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +6.224s
- Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) +10.170s
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +14.699s
- Josh Brookes (McAMS Yamaha) +15.786s
- Danny Buchan (FS-3 Racing Kawasaki) +18.745s
- Tommy Bridewell (Movuno.com Halsall Racing Suzuki) +21.043s
- Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) +21.290s
- Richard Cooper (Buildbase Suzuki) +21.568s
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Oulton Park, Race 2 result:
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki)
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +0.086s
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) +2.923s
- Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +3.235s
- Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) +9.952s
- Josh Brookes (McAMS Yamaha) +10.963s
- Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) +11.532s
- Danny Buchan (FS-3 Racing Kawasaki) +11.582s
- Richard Cooper (Buildbase Suzuki) +14.938s
- Tommy Bridewell (Movuno.com Halsall Racing Suzuki) +14.938s
Bennetts British Superbike Championship standings after Oulton Park:
- Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 115
- Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) 101
- Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) 98
- Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) 63
- Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) 59
- Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) 55
The next round of the 2018 Bennetts British Superbike Championship take place at Snetterton on June 15/16/17. For more information visit www.britishsuperbike.com